Severity: Warning Alert

Security: Further anti-government protests likely in major cities in Israel through at least May 15 after demonstrations over weekend of April 25-26.

This alert affects Israel

This alert began 26 Apr 2020 18:22 GMT and is scheduled to expire 15 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: Protests
  • Location(s): Nationwide, particularly Tel Aviv (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least May 15
  • Impact: Heightened security, localized transport disruptions; possible clashes

Summary
Additional protests are likely in multiple cities in Israel through at least May 15 following demonstrations in Tel Aviv over the weekends of April 18-19 and 25-26. Thousands of people reportedly gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, April 25, to protest the formation of a unity government between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief political rival Benny Gantz. Demonstrators have accused Netanyahu, who is under criminal indictment, of exploiting the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis to evade prosecution on corruption charges.

Despite the nationwide COVID-19 restrictions, Israeli authorities allow protests so long as participants observe social distancing requirements and wear face masks. Should further demonstrations materialize in the coming days, gatherings are likely around popular protest sites, including public squares, city centers, and government buildings. In Tel Aviv, popular protest location sites include Rabin Square, Habima Square, and Dizengoff Square. In Jerusalem, demonstrations have occurred outside government ministries, the Prime Minister's Office, and Ha-Shabat Square.

Localized transport disruptions are likely. Security forces will probably deploy near all demonstration sites; clashes remain possible if protesters are overly disruptive or fail to observe existing COVID-19 related social distancing guidelines.

Background and Analysis
Netanyahu and Gantz signed an agreement to form a national emergency government, April 20. The agreement came following three consecutive national elections that failed to bring about a majority government and end the country's year-long political stalemate. The Black Flag movement, as the recent protests have come to be known, opposes the coalition government. The unity coalition government, protesters claim, would allow Netanyahu to evade criminal charges and endanger the country's democratic institutions. The Black Flag movement's name comes from protesters carrying black flags to represent the danger that Netanyahu's government allegedly poses to Israeli democracy.

Advice
Avoid all announced or proposed protest actions due to the potential for violence. Exercise caution near likely protest locations. Monitor local media for protest activity, as organizers may not announce plans in advance. Confirm the availability of transport and allow additional time to reach destinations. Plan for increased security and localized transport disruptions near demonstrations. Follow all police instructions.


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