What appeared to be thousands of Israelis marched through the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday to protest against renewed government restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Israel’s daily COVID-19 infection rate is again in the thousands and the number of hospitalized patients is rising fast enough to have officials worried. In response, masks are again required indoors, travel to all but a handful of countries is banned and the “Green Passport” policy is back in effect.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has launched what some see as an overly-aggressive public relations campaign to changed the minds of the one million Israelis who have chosen not to be vaccinated. Bennett was accused last month of shaming these “vaccine-refusers,” and has since hinted that if Israel faces a nationwide lockdown over the upcoming Jewish holidays, it will be because of them.
At Saturday’s demonstration in Tel Aviv, some Israelis continued to insist either that the whole thing is a hoax, or that the government is exploiting what is a relatively mild, albeit highly contagious virus to exert greater control over the public.
They carried signs reading “There’s no pandemic, it’s a hoax” and “Dictatorship via the excuse of Corona”.
The demonstration received very little media coverage. And where it did, reports suggested there were only several hundred participants. But those involved claimed some 3,000 Israelis had come out, and a video posted to Facebook seemed to back up that larger estimate.