Some 200,000 people joined a virtual joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day ceremony held via the Zoom application and Facebook that was broadcast from Tel Aviv and Ramallah on Monday evening, April 27. The alternative ceremony that coincides with Israel’s memorial commemoration for its fallen soldiers has been held for the past 15 years by the Combatants for Peace organization and the Parents Circle Families Forum, an organization of Palestinians and Israelis who have lost loved ones in the conflict.
The Israeli-Palestinian Joint Memorial Day Ceremony was held without an in-person audience for the first time since its inception in 2006 due to the coronavirus, and instead was live-streamed from studios in Tel Aviv and Ramallah.
An Israeli emcee broadcasted from the event’s usual location in Tel Aviv in Hebrew and a Palestinian moderator hosted from Ramallah in Arabic. Speakers included Israelis Hagai Yoel and Tal Kfir, and Palestinians Yusra Mahfoud and Yaqoub Rabi — all of whom lost loved ones during the past two decades of the conflict.
UN Special Middle East envoy Nikolay Mladenov also addressed the ceremony, thanking the participants and calling them “an inspiration to all of us.” “We’ve seen operations, we’ve seen confrontation, but what we really need to see is Palestinians and Israelis coming together. Not just to fight the virus, but to fight for peace,” Mladenov said. “You are able to cross the divide to find partners on both sides of the conflict and this is something that is very much needed today, particularly at the time when we are all struggling against a global threat of COVID-19,” the UN envoy said. He added that those involved in the ceremony are “turning grief into hope” and are “turning hope into a future for all of us.”
Last year, far-right Prime Minister Netanyahu denied entry permits to 176 occupied West Bank Palestinians from bereaved families who hoped to participate in the ceremony, which was to be held in HaYarkon Park in north Tel Aviv. The High Court of Justice overturned Netanyahu’s directive, arguing that it was not legitimate to bar the attendees’ entry for security reasons.
The event appeared to have gone undetected the radar of critics until Monday afternoon, when a commercial was run on the Kan public broadcaster, sparking the ire of fascists and right-wing activists and lawmakers.
Watch the recording of the Joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Ceremony on YouTube:
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