Black Flag Activists to Stop Attending anti-Netanyahu Protests in Jerusalem During Lockdown

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People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem September 12, 2020.
People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem September 12, 2020. Credit: REUTERS/Corinna Kern

The Black Flag movement, who call to defend Israel's democracy and are one of the groups organizing protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, announced Monday that they will not take part in the weekly demonstrations in front of the premier's official residence in Jerusalem during the nationwide coronavirus lockdown set to begin Friday. 

However, according to the organization, activists will continue to protest at junctions, bridges and intersections across the country, as they have been every Saturday for over a month. "Out of social solidarity, we will suspend our participation in the demonstrations in Balfour. We will remain attentive to any damage to democracy, and we will prepare for a huge demonstration when the economy reopens," said the statement.

The right to protest is expected to be maintained during the lockdown, but the government has not yet clarified what restrictions will be imposed on the way the demonstrations will take place.

Earlier on Mondau, Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn said that the right to demonstrate will be preserved during the closure. "Especially in an emergency, our job is to make sure that no one takes advantage of the fragile situation to harm the Israeli justice system," Nissenkorn said, adding that "no one wants to live in a country where the government bans protests against it."

Protesters from the Black Flag anti-Netanyahu movement standing at a road junction in Israel, August 1, 2020.Credit: rami shllush

Four other groups also behind the protests said they will continue demonstrating during the lockdown in accordance with the law. "We found ways to continue to demonstrate with the determination and creativity we have led in the past 12 weeks while maintaining public health, and we will not stop until Israel is healed," the coalition of youth groups.

"We cannot treat the coronavirus when democracy is being harmed. Right now is the time to go out and protest. A defendant in bribery will never be able to resolve this crisis. For public health, Netanyahu must resign," said the Movement for Quality Government in Israel.

"The lockdown is intended, among other things, to eliminate the protests and place the blame on the public instead of the prime minister. We will continue to protest against him in any situation and in accordance with the law," said the organization Ein Matzav.

The government decided on Sunday to impose a three week nationwide lockdown starting on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, and the ministers intend to impose restrictions on the manner in which the demonstrations take place also. 

Among other things, the possibility of allowing protests to take place up to 500 meters from the home is being considered. Health Ministry Director General, Prof. Hezi Levy, is expected to present a proposal on the subject. 

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