Several thousand left-wing activists gathered in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Saturday evening, calling for an end to bloodshed in the Gaza Strip and a return to negotiations with the Palestinians.
Slogans chanted by the protesters included “Stop the war,” “Bring the soldiers back home” and “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies,” Channel 2 reported.
Channel 2 noted that prominent left-wing party Meretz as well as the Peace Now organization had opted not to take part in the rally, with the TV report speculating that the protesters may fall to the left of those groups on the political spectrum.
Several hundred right-wing activists held a counter-rally at the scene, and police were spread out in the area to prevent altercations between the two sides.
כיכר רבין, ת"א. עכשיו. pic.twitter.com/V4gxHojE1Q
— hovav yannai (@HovavYannai) July 26, 2014
The demonstrations were cut short when Hamas unilaterally ended a humanitarian truce with Israel and resumed rocket-fire from Gaza.
Police had initially said they would not allow the rally scheduled for 8 p.m., as the mutually agreed 12-hour truce between Israel and Hamas was set to expire at the same time. Police said a large-scale gathering of thousands of people as Tel Aviv remained under rocket threat would not be permitted.
However, when Israel agreed to extend the truce until midnight, police allowed the rally to go forward, but Hamas resumed rocket attacks after 8 p.m., claiming it had never agreed to the 4-hour extension. The protest and the right-wing counter-demonstration were then dispersed.
Ahead of the event, the rally’s organizers said on its Facebook page: “In the face of the war which is taking a heavy, bloody toll of dead and injured on both sides, of destruction and terror, of bombings and rockets, we will stand and demand: End the war now!
“Instead of being dragged again and again into more wars and more military operations, it is now time to lead a path of discourse and a diplomatic agreement. There is a diplomatic solution. What price will we pay — we, the residents of the south and the rest of Israel, and the residents of Gaza and the West Bank – until we come to it?
“Together, Jews and Arabs, we will substitute the path of occupation and wars, of hate, incitement and racism, with a path of life and of hope.”