Intent to sell or a good time at Israel's Burning Man festival?

Police go undercover, seize drugs at psychedelic desert festival.

May 31, 2017 14:03
2 minute read.
Drugs confiscated by Israel Police

Drugs confiscated by Israel Police. (photo credit: COURTESY ISRAEL POLICE)


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In a covert operation Wednesday morning at Israel's Midburn event in the Negev desert, police detectives arrested a suspect, a Tel Aviv resident around 30 years-old, in possession of various drugs not for personal consumption.

During the operation a festival goer was seen passing something on the dance floor. When authorities attempted to arrest the individual the suspect hit the officer in the face and tried to flee the scene. After a short chase the suspect was arrested.

Drugs confiscated from the suspect's bag included LSD, marijuana, hashish, MDMA and suspected hallucinogenic mushrooms.

The suspect was transferred to a Dimona police station for interrogation and will be brought before court to extend his remand.


The event is considered a “regional Burning Man,” based on the event, which for decades, has brought thousands of people to the Nevada desert for days of art installations, raves and various forms of “radical self-expression.”

In Israel, the burner community was born as so many modern ones are: on Facebook. Some Burning Man returnees formed a group on the social network called Burning Man Israel VIP (which, of course, stands for Very Inclusive People), for like-minded burners to decompress, reminisce and hang out. They started meeting at Pushpin, a bar in Tel Aviv’s Florentin neighborhood, and like their San Francisco counterparts so many years earlier, eventually ended up burning a man on a beach. That 2011 event, dubbed Mama Burn, drew 600 people, and led to Octoburn in 2012, where over 1,400 people gathered and set up makeshift camps for Succot.

Interest in the community grew rapidly and the burners felt the time had come to professionalize, so in 2013, the group formed a nonprofit, established four regional contacts with Burning Man and started laying the ground for the first Midburn.

Midburn festival. Credit: Gali Tibbon/AFP

“In Israel there is a tendency to adopt things quickly, and because it’s a small country where word spreads like a brushfire, then everyone immediately wants in. But I don’t think that there’s something specific to Israel; I think the principles speak to everyone,” explains Roni Kantor, a Midburn organizer. “I think that you can’t ascribe the wisdom behind Burning Man to a nation. It’s something every person can connect to.”

Over the next year, they built up the community, sold tickets, got permits and in June 2014, 3,000 people came together for the first Midburn in the Ramat Hanegev Regional Council area. The event was a smashing success.

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