By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
JERUSALEM (Worthy News) – Inspired by similar Canadian protests, hundreds of vehicles drove along the main highway from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Monday to protest against COVID-19 restrictions.
Supporters stood on overpasses and at junctions as the “Freedom Convoy” passed by, with banners and Israeli and Canadian flags flying from trucks, tractors, cars, or motorcycles
The convoy converged on parliament, the Knesset, in Jerusalem, and dozens of bridges to “Take back the wheel,” organizers said, referring to the government’s strict emergency powers.
Protestors demanded an end to the state of emergency and the “major corona law” granting the special government powers to halt the spread of the coronavirus, organizers said.
“Freedom doesn’t look like this,” read a sign, showing a picture of a girl in a mask. Outside parliament, protesters sounded horns and beat drums and called for pandemic restrictions to be lifted.
“We are all gathered here for freedom. Because for two years already, all this world is going mad. That’s because of all the mandates and all the things that don’t let us live as free as we are born,” Jonathan Deporto, 39, told reporters.
In recent weeks, Israel rolled back requirements to show proof of vaccination at restaurants, cinemas, gyms, and hotels to coincide with a slowdown in daily infections from the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19.
But masks are still mandatory in public indoor spaces, including schools, shops, and medical institutions. Protestors said they demand that children be allowed to do their everyday routines and an end to the mask mandate.
They also want a “complete opening of the economy, including getting rid of testing and other COVID safety requirements,” organizers said.
Additionally, they demand “Full disclosure of contracts and protocols” related to COVID19 vaccines that were “withheld from public review.” They want to know the exact “contract between the Israeli Health Ministry and pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.”
Monday’s protest also demanded ending the alleged violation of individual privacy through street cameras or other illegal surveillance. The government must respect “individual human rights unconditionally regardless of vaccination status,” organizers demanded.
Organizers stressed that the “recent morbidity wave has exposed government shortcomings and poor management of the crisis. That, in turn, created a crisis of confidence.”
Convoy representatives said that “many government forecasts have failed to prove true; many promises haven’t been kept, and citizens realize that their elected members in the Knesset are detached.”
The government, they claimed, was “improvising with illogical regulations, driven by personal interests and not by the wellbeing of the public.”
The role of the government “is not to rule but to serve its citizens,” organizers stressed. Israeli authorities say they recorded roughly 9,600 coronavirus deaths on a population of nearly 9 million.
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