Approximately 2,000 protesters in Tel Aviv’ Habima Square on Thursday night observed social distancing, wearing masks and standing two meters from each other as per the regulations of the Health Ministry. Headlined as the “Black Flag Protest,” organizers claimed the gathering was to protest the ongoing deadlock that has forced the country to the polls three times with the threat of a fourth election looming as a coalition has yet to be formed by either side. But the blame for the political impasse was decidedly one-sided with Yair Lapid and Moshe Yaalon, heads of the Blue and White party, sitting on the stage next to Ayman Odeh, head of the Arab Joint List. Several of the speakers and many of the signs described Prime Minister Netanyahu as the “Crime Minister.”
Among the signs featured in the protest were some saying that “coronavirus is used in service of dictatorship” and “we do not believe you anymore.”
But even these declarations of displeasure paled in comparison to what came later. Amiram Levin who commanded Netanyahu in the Sayeret Matkal elite commando unit, referred to an incident from Netanyahu’s army career to the crowd. In 1969, Netanyahu was crossing the Suez Canal. Netanyahu nearly drowned when his life vest failed to inflate. Weighed down with equipment and under fire, he barely survived and was only saved through the brave actions of his fellow soldiers.
When Amiram related this, many in the crowd shouted, “He should have drowned, a pity he didn’t drown.” Amiram rejected these loud cries, saying, “No, it was not a pity.” The shouts continued unabated despite Amiram’s objections.
Yair Netanyahu, as any son would, objected to these calls for his father’s death. He posted a Tweet saying, “I hope the old people who die as a result of this protest will be only from their [left-win] bloc.” Yair subsequently removed the tweet after criticism from the media, none of which mentioned the threats to his father.
The prime minister released a statement relating to his son’s tweet.
“In the fight against coronavirus there are no blocs, and there must not be. The prime minister is working around the clock to secure the well-being and safety of all Israeli citizens, without exception,” read the statement.
The security in charge of protecting the prime minister and his family informed Yair on Sunday that there an abnormally high number of posts on social media inciting against him.
Yair responded to a Twitter post praising the protest by saying, “All I see is old demented anarchists payed to go to this “demonstration” with money originated by the vile pedophile Jeffery Epstein and his good pal Ehud Barak who loved visiting him in pedophiles horror island of little St. James’s in the Virgin Islands.”
Yair criticized the protest for being illegal and though the official social distancing regulations do permit protests as an expression of free speech, the Health Ministry requires a distance of ten meters (33 feet) between participants. This was not the case at Thursday’s rally. The protesters were aware of this and marked the ground with ‘x’s, though they disregarded the marks. Other videos showed demonstrators clearly disregarding the two-meter restriction as well while others either wore the required masks on their chin or did not wear masks at all.
The participation by Lapid and Yaalon was a clear sign of internal conflict within the Blue and White Party. In his speech, Lapid slammed Benny Gantz for his attempts to form a unity government with Netanyahu.
“They are fighting to get into the government,” Lapid said of his former partner. “Telling themselves stories. They say, ‘We’ll fight from the inside.’ You won’t fight from the inside. You don’t fight corruption from within. If you’re inside, you’re part of it.”