At a Tel Aviv hotel, evacuees from Kiryat Shmona criticize calls to end war

Cnaan Lidor is The Times of Israel's Jewish World reporter

Protester Ilya Marmer argues with evacuees from Kiryat Shmona on Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv on June 22, 2024. (Canaan Lidor/Times of Israel)
Protester Ilya Marmer argues with evacuees from Kiryat Shmona on Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv on June 22, 2024. (Canaan Lidor/Times of Israel)

Returning from prayer on Saturday night, Hevron Sofer stops to argue with an anti-government protester on Kaplan Street.

“Are you serious? You want to surrender?” Sofer, an evacuee from Kiryat Shmona, asks the protester, who is carrying a sign calling for “an immediate ceasefire.”

A woman sitting on a bench shouts him down. “Go serve in the army, you parasite,” the woman tells him. Smiling, Sofer tells the woman: “Do you want to check and see which one of us had the longer army service, you or me?”

A younger man joins the discussion. “The horror, the utter bloodbath in Gaza must stop now,” the man, Ilya Marmer, tells Sofer, who works as a security officer in Tel Aviv, where he has been living at a hotel on Kaplan Street for the past eight months.

“I don’t mind if they make derogatory remarks at me because they see I wear tzitzit,” Sofer says, referring to the knotted fringes worn by religious Jews.

“It’s painful to see these protesters week in, week out, each time I go to pray at the synagogue in the Azreili Center, because I feel like they are working toward making sure that in two, three years, it will be my home in Kiryat Shmona that’s overrun by terrorists.”

Like many of the evacuees living at Sofer’s hotel, he feels that in recent weeks protesters have fully embraced calls to end the war regardless of the hostages. “They endanger all of us by not supporting the war effort. But especially us living in the border area,” Sofer says.

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