Some 15,000 people attended the yearly Israeli-Palestinian Remembrance Day ceremony in Tel Aviv on Monday evening, organized by Combatants for Peace and the Parents-Circle Families Forum. The event in Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park was originally planned for 10,000 attendees.
Despite some disturbances from a group of hecklers who were kept away by police officers, the ceremony proceeded without notable incidents.
Right-wing activists attempt to disturb joint ceremony
A group of about 20 activists stood outside of the event area and attempted to disturb the ceremony by shouting slogans such as, “Leftist traitors,” “Shame,” “Worse than terrorists” and “64 mandates,” the N12 news site reported.
The ceremony featured several musical pieces, including a recording by Marcus Mumford from the band Mumford & Sons, as well as a video clip recorded by Yehonatan Geffen two weeks before his death.
“Today’s ceremony is more important than ever,” Prof. Neta Ziv, vice president for equity, diversity and community at Tel Aviv University, said in a speech. “Evil spirits, extremist and racist, are blowing these days from official centers of power in Israel, and the purveyors of the evil spirits occupy key positions in the government. They preach Jewish supremacy and work to deepen the occupation. They seek to widen the divide and sow hatred between the Palestinian and Israeli people.”
Yusra Mahfouz from Nablus, whose son was killed by a stray bullet in 2000, said: “In the first days after I lost my son, I felt the need to take revenge, until one day people from the Parents-Circle Families Forum came to us. At first, I rejected outright any possibility of sitting face-to-face with the enemy who took my son. But slowly over time I began to participate, and I became active in the forum. I met people in my situation, Israelis and Palestinians.
“The desire for revenge was replaced by the desire for peace and a better future. I turn to the mothers who are watching me now. The bereavement is the same bereavement; the pain is the same pain. Today, we see more than ever why we need to act together. May we all live in peace.”
The controversy surrounding Palestinian attendance
Participation in the event by West Bank Palestinians was in doubt when Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said they would not be able to enter Israel over security concerns. Palestinians’ movement in and out of various territories would be extremely restricted on Remembrance Day due to the current heightened security situation, he said.
His decision sparked controversy, and Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara issued a legal opinion to the High Court of Justice, saying Gallant had acted against legal precedent by denying Palestinians entry to Israel to participate in the event. Her opinion was confirmed by the court before the ceremony.
Michael Starr contributed to this story.