Tensions were high at Saturday’s protest calling for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s resignation, but a new spectacle hoped to reduce some of the strain — a stand where protesters were pampered with free massages in the middle of the chaos.
The man behind this idea is 30-year-old Ohad, who lives in the north of Israel. According to Ohad, the message is twofold: to physically help people let go of their rage and stress, but also symbolically to tell Netanyahu to “let go already.”
Ohad’s original idea was to give massages to the police.
“They are going through a very difficult period, I’m sure, on the personal level,” he said.
Although he ended up only massaging protesters, he was surprised by the overwhelming positive feedback. “The responses were amazing. I didn’t expect anything like it, I thought we would be a weird sideshow.”
He intends to continue giving these massages at future protests.
An estimated 10,000 people packed Jerusalem’s Paris Square Saturday night to call for Netanyahu’s resignation, in the largest-yet rally by a burgeoning anti-government movement that has brought activists, many of them young and newly politically active, to the streets.
Police allowed the protesters to remain in the square until around 1 a.m. but once most people had left on their own, began calling for the remaining group to leave.
Eventually officers were deployed to physically remove the remaining core of demonstrators and 12 people were detained or arrested, police said.