Pro-democracy Protest Forced by Israel Police to Provide Their Own Face Masks

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A man rests during a "black flag" protest in Tel Aviv, April 2020.
A man rests during a "black flag" protest in Tel Aviv, April 2020.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Israel Police has toughened restrictions ahead of another "Black Flags" protest – a demonstration calling to safeguard democracy in light of the coronavirus pandemic – slated to take place on Sunday evening in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square.

A police document obtained by Haaretz says organizers of the protest are responsible for providing face masks to participants.

The protest has been moved from a smaller venue so that organizers could comply with another police requirement – to maintain a distance of two meters between protesters, as well as clusters of ten people separated by ten meters from the next group.

Police, however, imposed additional requirements ahead of Sunday's protest: Organizers are required to mark the spots where people can stand, and each of the speakers must call on the protesters to "maintain the distances and wear a mask for the safety of the participants."

Lawmakers Yair Lapid, Moshe Ya'alon and Yair Golan are expected to speak at the protest, as well Dan Meridor, the former justice minister.

"The State of Israel is passing on to the public a responsibility that it should carry," said Gonen Ben Itzhak, one or the organizers.

During a government conference call overnight Sunday, Interior Minister Gilad Erdan asked to limit protests, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected his request, saying he could be perceived of trying to quash protests against him.

Last Friday, police handed out 5,000-shekel-fines ($1,400) to protesters in Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem. Similar fines were given last week to protesters outside the Kfar Saba home of Kahol Lavan lawmaker Gabi Ashkenazi.

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