Israeli citizens took to the streets for a unique socially distanced protest against the Israeli prime minister’s “anti-democratic” emergency measures.
The estimated 2,000 demonstrators took to Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square standing two metres apart during the spectacular protest, which was granted approval so long as social distancing was observed.
The protest organisers marked out in black crosses where protestors should stand and provided face masks for attendees.
The demonstration was part of the “Black Flag” campaign, which began in March to protest the “anti-democratic measures” put in place by the government in response to the coronavirus, which included granting the secret service – Shin Bet – the power to track the phones of civilians.
Tonight 2,000 Israelis came together — but stayed socially distant — in order to fight back against the latest anti-Democratic actions by Prime Minister Netanyahu.
The situation is dire but this protest is breathtaking. pic.twitter.com/5shrI2pPhh
— IfNotNow🔥 (@IfNotNowOrg) April 19, 2020
High profile speakers addressed the protestors, including the Chairman of the Joint List Ayman Odeh.
Odeh said: “Given our shared fate, we are fighting the cruel coronavirus epidemic – Arab and Jewish doctors, caretakers and pharmacists. We will continue fighting and we will beat it. This shared fate is meant to continue through all the issues that are dear to us: Peace, democracy, equality and social justice.”
Odeh continued that it was “difficult” to stand alongside some of the other speakers but said that uniting against these anti-democratic measures was an “opportunity” to form a wide Arab-Jewish coalition for peace and democracy.
Among the other speakers was Yesh Atid’s chair Yair Lapid, who previously formed part of the Blue and White (Kahol Lavan) alliance headed by Benny Gantz, and former defence minister Moshe Ya’alon.
However, according to these former officials, the coronavirus measures are not the only anti-democratic power moves Netanyahu is making.
Lapid told the crowd that Netanyahu has demanded power to appoint the police chief, state prosecutor and attorney general as part of the negotiations with his former political allies.
Although government officials objected to the protest, Netanyahu allegedly said it should be allowed so as to protect his public image.