Israel’s police have refused to grant the permit requested by organizers for a mass demonstration through the streets of Tel Aviv that had been planned for tomorrow, Saturday evening, June 6, arguing that this would contravene coronavirus-related regulations. Police officials have also asked the organizers of the protest to modify their Facebook announcements of the event, including stopping inviting people to join the demonstration to reduce the number of participants, and to refrain from blocking any major thoroughfares between the start and end points of the march.
The organizers of a joint Jewish-Arab protest against annexation and occupation of the Palestinian territories had been planning to hold a 10,000-strong march tomorrow, Saturday night, from Rabin Square to the Tel Aviv Museum. At a meeting with the police, they were told that the latter would not approve the permit to hold the march as organizers had planned due “to COVID-19 related restrictions.”
The head of the Joint List, MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash), one of the protest’s many initiators, said, “The far-right government has launched an assault on everybody’s civil rights with the aim of enabling the draconian steps that would foil any chance for a Palestinian state and shatter the democratic space. I call on anyone who believes in peace and democracy and who opposes annexation and occupation to come on Saturday night and show them that we will not give up. Nothing will prevent Jews and Arabs from demonstrating together.”
“The guidelines for holding demonstrations at this time are clear, allowing marches and protest rallies to take place, while following health-related instructions,” said Shirli Nadav of the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI). “Regrettably, this is not the first time the police are using health-related pretexts to make it difficult to organize demonstrations by coming up with unreasonable demands. In recent weeks there have been some strange demands by the police to reduce posting on social media, as well as asking for lists of speakers. The police role is not to monitor the content of the demonstration or to limit the number of participants, but to enable freedom of protest while protecting demonstrators and safeguarding public order” she said.
An initiative of Hadash (Democratic Front for Peace and Equality) and the Communist Party of Israel (CPI) along with more than 20 human rights and peace organizations and other groups met on Thursday, May 28, at Hagada Hasmalit Cultural Center in Tel Aviv to organize a mass march under the slogan: “No to the annexation, No to occupation! Yes to peace and democracy!”
In the joint communique they said, “We, Jews and Arabs, will march together for a different future for Israelis and Palestinians. A future without occupation and bloodshed in which we all live in safety. We will march in Tel Aviv-Jaffa against the occupation and for peace and hope, against racism and for partnership.”
“Netanyahu and Trump want to perpetuate a violent reality of hate and separation. They plan on cutting out and annexing parts of the West Bank, pushing people out of their homes and depriving Arab citizens [of Israel] living in the Triangle and Wadi Ara of their citizenship. If their plans are realized – it will destroy any hope for a solution. However, we know there is a different way, of equality and justice that we must fight. We cannot stay silent in the face of hatred and fear, of violence and oppression. On Saturday, June 6th – no one should stay at home. We will take to the streets and march together for democracy based on peace and equality.”
Among the signatories of the declaration: Hadash, CPI, Young Communist League of Israel, Meretz, Coalition of Women for Peace, Rabbis for Human Rights, Breaking the Silence, Crime Minister, Peace Now, Standing Together, Mossawa Center, Yesh Gvul, Mesarvot, Academy for Peace, Gush Shalom, Combatants for Peace, Social Workers for Peace and Social Welfare, Parents Circle – Families Forum, Sikkuy, Ir-Amin, Another Voice, Arab Alternative Planning Center, The School of Peace – Neve Shalom, Zazim, Free Jerusalem, Black Flag – Against Annexation, All That’s Left – Anti-Occupation Collective, Socialist Struggle, Resist Apartheid, and Arab Movement for Equality.
The demonstration in Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/293077595184249/