Thousands of Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv Saturday evening to protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge to begin annexing parts of the West Bank next month.
Police initially sought to block the rally but backtracked Friday after meeting with organizers, who urged participants to wear masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Dozens of officers were securing the demonstration after police said attendance would be capped at 2,000, though the Haaretz daily put turnout at 6,000 people in what appeared to be the largest protest in the country since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The demonstration was organized by the left-wing Meretz party and the communist Hadash faction of the majority-Arab Joint List, along with several other left-wing rights groups.
MK Nitzan Horowitz, the head of Meretz, told the crowd that annexation would be a “war crime” and would cost Israel millions as the economy is already reeling due to the pandemic.
“We cannot replace an occupation of dozens of years with an apartheid that will last forever,” shouted a hoarse Horowitz. “Yes to two states for two peoples, no to violence and bloodshed,” he continued. “No to annexation, yes to peace.”