As families of the roughly 240 hostages abducted by Hamas last month began gathering regularly in public spaces in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other locations, Gabi Ohayon wanted to do something.
Ohayon, who owns a picture frame shop in Rishon Lezion, created a simple solution: He rented a traveling caravan fitted with comfortable seating, a small kitchen for making tea and coffee, and — most importantly — a bathroom.
“They need clean bathrooms, like what they have at home,” said Ohayon. “They stand there for hours, but sometimes they need a bathroom, or a hot drink, or to sit for a minute. So I set this up for them.”
The families of the hostages often gather outside the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, in the renamed Hostages Plaza, outside the Defense Ministry offices in Tel Aviv and near the Knesset in Jerusalem. The rallies can last a couple of hours and it’s not always easy to find a bathroom nearby.
The truck’s exterior is completely covered with a banner showing the face of every hostage and missing person, with a folding Israeli flag that Ohayon raises wherever he parks.
On Saturday afternoon and evening, he was in Jerusalem, parked on Kaplan Street, where an estimated 30,000 entered the capital at around 3 p.m. ahead of a protest at the Prime Minister’s Office that took place around 4 p.m.
He stayed to provide his service for a silent rally at 6:30 p.m., organized by the Shomrim Al Habayit Hameshutaf (Safeguarding our Joint Home) group, paying homage to those killed on October 7 and praying for the hostages.
After the rally, participants stood on the sidewalk gazing at the faces of those held hostage in Gaza, speaking to Ohayon.
“It’s for anyone who comes to rally,” he said.
By 8:45 p.m., Ohayon began folding up his flag and the set of stairs carpeted in artificial grass that lead into the caravan’s bright, tidy interior.
He was heading back to Tel Aviv and the Hostages Plaza, where thousands had gathered to support the families of the hostages with a rally focused on the some 40 children believed held hostage in Gaza.
Many of the families of the hostages had headed straight to Tel Aviv after completing the five-day march to Jerusalem.
“I’m there every night, I’ll be there until midnight,” said Ohayon. “I go wherever they need a bathroom.”