TLV Municipality gets backlash over plans to light up with Lebanese flag

While Israel has offered humanitarian aid to Lebanon, some felt like Huldai's suggestion was one step too far.

Tel Aviv municipality lights up with the Lebanese flag, in a gesture of solidarity, August 5, 2020. (Credit: Eytan Halon)
Following the massive explosion that shook Lebanon's capital on Tuesday, killing over 100 people and injuring nearly 4,000, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai announced on Wednesday that the Tel Aviv Municipality would be lit up with the Lebanese flag as an act of solidarity with the Lebanese people.
Huldai wrote the message on Twitter, stating that "Tonight, we will be lighting up the Municipality with the Lebanese flag. Humanity comes before any conflict, and our hearts are with the people of Lebanon following the terrible disaster that has fallen upon them." 

Huldai was not alone in showing sympathy and offering support to the Lebanese people. Many politicians, public figures and hospitals across Israel offered assistance to Lebanon, putting aside the conflict and deciding to focus on solidarity in face of the disaster, rather on the conflict that has characterized the Israel-Lebanon relations for decades.
While Israel has offered humanitarian aid to Lebanon, some felt like Huldai's suggestion was one step too far.
Yair Netanyahu, 29, son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, attacked Huldai on Twitter, while referring to an Israeli law from 2018 that defines acts of raising flags of enemy entities in public domains as a criminal activity.
"This is absolutely crazy. Lebanon is officially considered an enemy state. According to the law, raising an enemy flag is a criminal act!," Yair wrote. 

Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Minister Rafi Peretz also criticized Huldai, pointing at the inherent connection between the State of Lebanon and the terror organization Hezbollah.
"We can and should provide humanitarian assistance to citizens injured in Lebanon, but waving the flag of an enemy state in the heart of Tel Aviv is moral confusion. Lebanon has allowed Hezbollah to get stronger and even allows Iran's terror activity on its land," Peretz said.
The criticism and voiced concerns, however, did not stop Huldai and the Tel Aviv municipality from implementing the initiative, and on Wednesday evening the building lit up the city with the colors of the Lebanese flag.
Huldai's suggestion came after both the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai and the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt were lit up with the Lebanese flag in a show of solidarity over Tuesday's deadly explosion in Beirut.
In 2016, the Tel Aviv Municipality projected the colors of the LGBT pride flag on its building as an act of solidarity with the LGBT global community, following the Orlando massacre that killed 50 people in a nightclub associated with the LGBT community. In other occasions, the municipality building was lit up with the flags of Egypt (2017) and Sri Lanka (2019,) following terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of dozens of people.