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Thousands gather at Rabin Square to protest Netanyahu’s annexation plan

Thousands of Israelis have gathered at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square to protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to annex large parts of the West Bank beginning on July 1.

The demonstration is organized by the left-wing Meretz party and the Hadash communist faction of the majority-Arab Joint List along with several other left-wing rights groups.

Organizers have called on participants to wear masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines as police warn that they will cap the event at 2,000 people.

Protesters are seen waving Israeli and Palestinian flags with several dozen holding up pictures of Iyad Halak, a Palestinian man with autism who was shot dead last week in Jerusalem’s Old City by police who said they thought he was carrying a gun. (He was unarmed and holding his cellphone.)

Dozens of police officers are securing the rally.

Police on Friday backtracked on a decision to ban the protest, saying it could go ahead Saturday evening if social distancing regulations would be maintained.

Organizers marked up the city’s iconic Rabin Square so that demonstrators could stand separated.

The event, titled, “No to the occupation, no to annexation, yes to democracy,” kicked off with a march from the Tel Aviv Art Museum to Rabin Square.

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