Cities to Voluntarily Forego Fireworks Displays

YERUSHALAYIM -
Fireworks over the sky of Tel Aviv as Israel marked its 71st Independence Day, last year. (Flash90)

Many Israeli cities and towns have said they will not be holding fireworks displays on Independence Day this year, even though the Cabinet voted to allow them, saying that it would not be appropriate in the midst of the pandemic.

The question of fireworks, an Independence Day staple, was the subject of ongoing discussion in recent days, though mostly from the point of view of the risk of spreading the coronavirus in the large crowds that turn out every year.

In the end, the ministers voted on Sunday to allow them, albeit with the usual advisories about social distancing and gloves and masks, and relying on local police to enforce the rules.

Subsequently, the Federation of Local Authorities issued a statement saying it trusted the various municipalities individually to decide whether to have fireworks or not.

Thus it was that, on a voluntary basis, many municipalities decided against it. As of Monday night, the list included: Tel Aviv, Ashkelon, Bat Yam, Rishon Letzion, Ramat Gan, Hod Hasharon, Karmiel, Nes Tziona, Beersheva, Petach Tikva, Netanya, Herzliya, Yavne, Raanana, Or Yehuda, and Givatayim, according to a report from The Times of Israel.

Haifa Mayor Einat Kalisch Rotem said the fireworks budget would be invested in aid for Holocaust survivors. Karmiel Mayor Moshe Kuninsky also pledged to use the funds to help local residents in need.

Hod Hasharon Mayor Amir Kochavi argued that the Cabinet’s decision to allow fireworks displays “is contrary not only to the recommendations of the Health Ministry and Police, but also to common sense.

“Bereaved families are barred from visiting the graves of their beloved ones who fell in defense of the state in order to prevent the very crowds that the fireworks would cause,” he added.

However, the mayors of Yerushalayim, Holon, Nof Hagalil, and Beit El, said they would hold fireworks shows as planned.