The Israeli Health Ministry has been exempting demonstrations from restrictions on public gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic. But on Thursday the Tel Aviv municipality took it a large step further, offering a main square for demonstrations, along with measures to facilitate them.
“Due to the increase in the number of groups and organizations seeking to hold protests throughout the city, [Tel Aiv] made Rabin Square available in order for individuals to hold events while complying with the Ministry of Health’s guidelines and emergency legislation in connection with the Corona epidemic,” read a statement from the municipality.
“The municipality placed 250 stickers of 2 feet by 2 feet over the central square with the words “Protecting Democracy – Protecting Our Health.” The stickers were placed 6 feet apart to mark standing distances, in keeping with standard health procedures established by the city, when conducting public activities in the square.
“In addition, starting next week, the municipality will be lending out kits, which will include a portable booster system, microphone, and a mobile podium,” the statement said.
On Thursday night, hundreds of small business owners and self-employed workers arrived at Rabin Square to take advantage of the offer and stage a protest demanding more government financial assistance in the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.
But, according to Channel 12, police on the scene were still needed to enforce social distancing.
Protesters have already held three demonstrations in Tel Aviv, waving black flags and some in black costumes holding up signs saying “Crime Minister,” referring to Prime Minister Netanyahu, under indictment on corruption charges.
The gatherings have been orderly and no arrests have been reported.
Demonstrations both for and against Netanyahu were held outside the High Court on Thursday, which next week will hear arguments for and against his eligibility to form a government under the constitution.
Both sides appeared to obey social-distancing rules.
The Likud, unimpressed with the orderliness of the anti-Netanyahu demonstrators, commented: “The demonstrations of hoodlums from the far left in black shirts with their calls to battle remind us of fascist demonstrations in every respect.”