Tel Aviv Covers Up, Damages Rabin Assassination Mural Ahead of Independence Day Celebrations

Artist denies city's claim that he had agreed to commence restoration next week. The municipality says the mural was painted over by mistake

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Yigal Shtayim's mural after removal of paint. Damage seen in the center.
Yigal Shtayim's mural after removal of paint. Damage seen in the center. Credit: Moti Milrod
Naama Riba
Naama Riba

The Tel Aviv Municipality on Tuesday painted over and damaged an outdoor mural depicting the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin amid preparations for festivities marking Israel's Independence Day

Last week, the city covered up the mural in the Florentin neighborhood with a historical photo as part of preparations for the celebrations. Complaints by residents led to the removal of the photo that was covering the mural.

On Tuesday morning, the city accidentally painted over the mural by the artist and activist Yigal Shtayim, who painted it in the 1990s. Following further complaints, the municipality removed the paint, causing damage.

The municipality said the incident was a regrettable mistake and that it halted the painting as soon as it became aware of it. The mural will be restored as soon as possible in cooperation with the artist, the municipality added.

Yigal Shtayim's mural being painted over on Tuesday morningCredit: No credit

"Contact was made with the artist Yigal Shtayum, who arrived at the site, expressed his willingness to reconstruct the painting, and submitted the list of required materials," the municipality said, adding that restoration would commence on Monday.

Shtayim, however, said this was incorrect. "I was not present at the site of the painting, I did not give the city a list of materials, and I did not commit to fixing the paining on Monday – it's all a lie and deception," he said. "Someone called and said they would help with anything I needed. Not someone official. We certainly did not meet and I did not provide a list of material sand no timetable was set."

The municipality also explained that the earlier installation of a photo covering up the mural was part of a community project ahead of Independence Day.

A photo being placed to cover up the mural. The photo was later removedCredit: No credit

"The location on the wall was chosen because it is a central wall in the neighborhood," the city said, but the decision was made to remove the photo after passersby commented.

The Tel Aviv municipality has no clear policy regarding the preservation of works of street art, which means the department responsible for city beautification sometimes removes them.

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