Despite looming threats of rocket fire from Gaza, an estimated 40,000 people attended a concert of Israeli rock star Aviv Geffen in Tel Aviv on Thursday evening.
The Israel Defense Forces’ Home Front Command green-lit the concert at HaYarkon Park to go ahead as planned, but ticket holders received precautionary text messages instructing them on behavior should rocket sirens sound. Participants were warned not to run (as this would be dangerous in a large crowd) but to drop to the ground and protect their heads with their hands for a period of 10 minutes.
Amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, a sense of apprehension gripped many ticket holders. Geffen, in an Instagram post, told those who decided no to attend to contact the ticketing company on Sunday to ask for a refund.
The singer celebrated his 50th birthday on Wednesday, and the performance was scheduled to coincide with the event. It was his first performance ever at HaYarkon Park.
“Never has so much effort been put into a show of mine,” he said before the concert.
Some commentators criticized the singer and authorities for moving forward with the concert despite the danger.
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Addressing the audience, Geffen said: “I’m here today with you, holding the performance, because this is a very important message… that we’ve chosen life.”
“No one will silence Israel, ever!” he added to cheers.
Video taken by someone in the audience showed Iron Dome interceptors exploding in the sky in the distance, taking down rockets fired toward the country’s central Gush Dan region, though it was not possible to assess how close they were to Tel Aviv.
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Geffen lost his father, renowned writer and lyricist Yehonatan Geffen, last month.
Earlier Thursday, a rocket fell in Rehovot, claiming the life of one Israeli citizen and injuring five others.
Prior to that, an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip killed a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad member, Ahmad Abu Deka, dealing another blow to the group in the latest round of hostilities and further dampening hopes for a ceasefire.
Operation Shield and Arrow, the current military engagement between Israel and Gaza, commenced early Tuesday following the assassination of three top Islamic Jihad commanders in response to earlier rocket fire from Gaza.