Middle East Monitor / September 27, 2023
Concern has been raised by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s close circle after National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir announced yesterday that he plans to hold prayers in Dizengoff Square in central Tel Aviv tomorrow following residents’ protests in the city and their attempt to prevent segregated prayers from taking place in the area on Yom Kippur, on Monday.
Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper quoted a leader in the Likud Party as saying that Ben-Gvir’s announcement “is childish behaviour on the part of a senior minister who is preoccupied with provocations and public relations.”
Coalition officials, led by Netanyahu, attacked the activists who protested the prayers because of the gender segregation. They also criticized Ben-Gvir and demanded that he back down from the “protest prayer” that he had announced.
The newspaper reported that the police fear violence between Ben-Gvir’s supporters and protesters who are expected to demonstrate against them, following the municipality’s request to the police to prevent separation between the sexes during the prayer that Ben-Gvir called for. On the other hand, protest movements against the government’s plan to weaken the judiciary are organizing a “Prayer for Democracy” in the same square.
Police are preparing to separate Ben-Gvir’s supporters from the protesters.
The Tel Aviv District Court had rejected the request of the extremist right-wing movement Rosh Yehudi to hold a segregated prayer in Dizengoff Square. The Supreme Court also rejected the appeal against the District Court’s decision, but followers of the extremist movement are not complying with this decision.
Locals have said they will protest against the planned event, adding that they will “remind the racists that they are not honoured guests in our neighbourhood.”