Israeli 'Freedom Convoy' Blocks Main Highway in Protest of COVID Measures

Dozens of cars block the entrance of Jerusalem, carrying banners reading 'new world order,' 'cancel the mask mandate' and other slogans

Ran Shimoni
Ran Shimoni
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A car, which is part of an Israeli 'Freedom Convoy,' displays an Israeli flag adorned with red maple leaves as it heads to Jerusalem on Monday.
A car, which is part of an Israeli 'Freedom Convoy,' displays an Israeli flag adorned with red maple leaves as it heads to Jerusalem on Monday.Credit: AMIR COHEN/ REUTERS
Ran Shimoni
Ran Shimoni

Dozens of cars briefly blocked a main highway in Israel for a short while on Monday in protest of coronavirus regulations, causing heavy traffic at the entrance to Jerusalem.

Based off of a similar protest movement in Canada, the convoy of anti-vaccine activists aimed to reach the Knesset, and hung signs on their cars reading "liberty," "new world order," "no more restrictions, going back to normal," "cancel the mask mandate" and "a free nation in our country," among other slogans.

"I"m here for my children, so that they can have a better world," one of the protesters explained. "Rights are being taken away from citizens with no real justification, and we need to fight that." She added, "We are no one's enemies."

An Israeli flag bearing the name of a pharmaceutical company Pfizer presented alongside a Canadian flag on Monday.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Thousands participated in the protest, as some were driving toward Jerusalem and the rest were standing at junctions and bridges along Route 1.

According to public health experts, Israel's COVID-19 vaccination drive has saved an estimated 20,000 lives over the course of the two-year pandemic.

Israelis over 60 who are either unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated against COVID-19 died in significantly higher numbers last month compared to people in their age cohort who are fully vaccinated, according to official figures published by the Israeli Health Ministry.

A car, which is part of an Israeli 'Freedom Convoy,' displays an Israeli and a Canadian flag as it heads to Jerusalem on Monday.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

The numbers show that while only approximately 12 percent of Israelis over 60 are either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, together they account for 43 percent of COVID deaths in their age group in the previous month.

The first so-called "Freedom Convoy" was held last month in Canada, in which a blockade of trucks and cars blocked traffic at the border crossing with the United States, as well as on major streets, in protest of COVID-19 restrictions. Its organizers count QAnon conspiracy theory supporters and far-right activists.

Similar protests took place in New Zealand, Australia, France and Holland.

In the New Zealand capital of Wellington on Monday, authorities tried blasting Barry Manilow songs and the 90s dance hit “Macarena” on loop in an unsuccessful attempt to break up a convoy of protesters that has been encamped outside Parliament for nearly a week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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