Thousands of Israelis strike and protest against sexual violence

Women hold placards during a protest against sexual violence in Tel Aviv on August 23, 2020.
Women hold placards during a protest against sexual violence in Tel Aviv on August 23, 2020. © Amir Cohen, REUTERS

Thousands of Israelis demonstrated and observed a symbolic work stoppage on Sunday to denounce sexual violence against women following the alleged gang-rape of a 16-year-old girl in a Red Sea resort.


The hour-long strike at noon was held "to protest the growing violence against women and girls in Israel, and lack of sufficient punishment", said women's group Bonot Alternativa.

One of the event's organisers, Ariel Peleg, told AFP at least 30 organisations and companies, including municipalities and Microsoft Israel, took part in the vigil which fell on the first day of the Israeli working week.

In the evening, demonstrations were held throughout the country, with thousands attending the main event in the coastal city of Tel Aviv. 

An AFP report there said many of the participants wore red clothes at the request of the organisers.

'Crime against humanity'

The "women's strike" was organised after reports in recent days of the alleged rape of an intoxicated teenage girl by a group of men at a hotel in the Red Sea resort of Eilat.

Police said 11 suspects, including nine minors and a woman said to be the manager of the hotel, had been arrested in connection with the affair as part of an "ongoing investigation". 

In a statement on Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the reported rape, which triggered protests in several cities, as "a crime against humanity".

Responding to public outrage, Tel Aviv authorities on Sunday erased a "Peeping Toms" mural that had long been a fixture of the city.

"Freedom of expression and the arts are important values in our city, but because the painting was seen as acceptance of a forbidden and criminal act, we have decided to say goodbye to it," Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai wrote on Twitter.



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