Demonstrations Continue in Israel

  • Israel has permitted separate demonstrations spread out throughout the country
  • Marching is prohibited, people are restricted to demonstrate in their own towns
  • Demonstrations in the highly populated city of Tel Aviv became violent

Israel’s secular democrats are not willing to accept the limitations made by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to the guidelines of the Ministry of Health. These guidelines limited demonstrations to within one kilometer of demonstrators’ homes.

Demonstration in the Ultra-Orthodox section of Jerusalem, Meah Shearim.

As a result, there have been many anti-Netanyahu demonstrations throughout the country, rather than being centered in Balfour, Netanyahu’s home in Jerusalem. The numbers of demonstrators in the larger cities remain substantial, while in smaller settlements, these demonstrations are symbolic. There have been hundreds of small demonstrations throughout the country.

The Ministry of Health has made guidelines for these demonstrations, which include the wearing of masks and observing social distancing.  In Tel Aviv, there was a mass demonstration which defied lockdown directives and became violent, resulting in 38 arrests. The police initially kept their distance from the protests as long as the rules were adhered to.

After several hours, clashes once again broke out as protesters attempted to breach police barriers. They wanted to start marching and were stopped by police. The protests in Tel Aviv were located in many places, including Rabin Square and Habima Square.

The protesters, before entering these places, were checked by police to see if they lived within one kilometer. In this way, they controlled these gatherings.

In Jerusalem, protest leaders organized what they called a Balfour Rally. Dozens of citizens rode bikes or jogged in the direction of Balfour Square. In the past, the protesters had complained about police violence. A police spokesman said the officers will enforce social distancing and face masks rules, according to the guidelines.

A static protest in with coronavirus restrictions is allowed, but marches are not approved and are illegal. Demonstrations in Jerusalem were kept under control, unlike in Tel Aviv, where the small protests turned into a mass march across the city.

In the religious areas in Israel, there have been violent demonstrations. In the religious neighborhoods of Beit Shemesh, Modi’in Illit, Beitar, and Meah Shearim, police officers attempted to enforce Coronavirus lockdown restrictions. In response, the Ultra-Orthodox residents threw rocks and objects at them, calling them Nazis.

Violent demonstration in the religous city of Modi’in Illit.

There have been clashes between Haredi Ultra-Orthodox and police throughout the country, known for disregarding the health directives to conduct prayers.  The Ministry of Health claims that the percentages of infected people in Haredi areas are much larger than throughout all of Israel.

Haredi community leaders object that the limitations on prayer gatherings up to 25 people outside are much less than limitations which are made for demonstrations. Prayer gatherings are a form of demonstration of unity, no less important than secular demonstrations, which often become violent. Prayer gatherings are essentially peaceful demonstrations while secular demonstrations are more likely to become violent, since their opposition to the establishment is more public.

In the past 24 hours, there have been 31 deaths from the coronavirus. Under lockdown, there is a decline in new infections. Of these cases, 855 patients are hospitalized in serious condition, while 223 people are on respirators.

Netanyahu is in touch with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two spoke about Iranian aggression and the situation in Syria. They also spoke about joint cooperation in fighting the Coronavirus Pandemic.

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David Wexelman

Author of 5 books on the internet on topics of Jewish mysticism, managing two websites.

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