The celebration of democracy is underway and Israelis are voting en mass: 10,132 ballot boxes are waiting on Tuesday across Israel for 5,656,705 eligible voters to exercise their voting right.
The Tel Aviv polling station in Geula Street was buzzing in anticipation for Labor Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich's vote. Nevertheless, the ballot box was quickly filled with Likud-Beiteinu and Yesh Atid tickets.
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"I woke up on the right side of the bed," said Hazmi Yechia who voted for Netanyahu. "I've been a Likud member since I made aliyah. I couldn't and I didn't want to vote for anyone else."
Patrick never had much interest in politics, but has voted in a Tel Aviv ballot box for the first time in his life.
Polling station in Tel Aviv, today (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
"I didn't care so much until now. It's always the same. I decided to vote for (Yair) Lapid, we need someone new in government, someone young and fresh.
"I know he'll not be elected prime minister, but it's time for new people," Patrick said and continued to enjoy his sabbatical.
Reshef Doron voted Labor. "It's the lesser evil," he explained. "I believe in Shelly Yachimovich. My world-view is social-democratic and I think that's where the world is headed.
"I voted previously for nearly every party, every time for different considerations. Today the consideration is voting for the least worse party."
A ballot box in Tel Aviv, Tuesday morning (Photo: Yaron Brener)
Tzvi Cohen also arrived at the Tel Aviv ballot box and asked those present "Who did you vote for?" adding: "I need to know, it's not obvious," before casting his own vote.
Later he refused to divulge who won his vote. "It's a secret, and secrets are to be kept," he smiled.
Photo: Nimrod Glickman
Voting at Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba (Photo: Avishag Shaar-Yeshuv)
Prisoners also vote. Rimonim Prison (Photo: Gur Dotan)
Ali Masrawa from Tayibeh also voted in the early morning hours. According to him, "I usually don't vote, but today I decided to vote to sabotage the government which ruined our social and economic lives.
"I call everyone to vote to save the situation."
Rania Mahamid from Umm al-Fahm said the she "voted the moment ballots were opened. Arabs are continuing to vote."
Ballot boxes were also placed at hospitals for the benefit of patients who are unable to vote in their designated polling stations. "I've been here for a couple of days," said Yaakov from Raanana who is hospitalized at the Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba. "It was important for me to vote."
Some 10,800 eligible prisoners were also given the chance to vote. Prison Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman said, "It is our duty to allow every prisoner to exercise their right to vote."
Many Israelis took advantage of sunny weather on Tuesday's sabbatical and explored the great outdoors or just went to the beach.
Electing to start their day with a morning jog along the Tel Aviv sea-side, some ran with shirts carrying the slogan: "Choosing to run," stapling different party tickets on themselves.
Chose the weather. Today, in Tel Aviv (Photo: Benny Deutsch)
Boaz Schwartzkopf went with his wife and daughter to the Tel Aviv Port. "We came to take advantage of this lovely day," Boaz smiled.
"I'm a student and I got half a day off. We haven't voted yet, but we'll probably go after this short trip. Meanwhile we're enjoying the weather."
Fishing time (Photo: Benny Deutsch)
Leonid and Faina Vichnik, pensioners, went out for their regular morning walk along the beach. "We've already fulfilled all our duties, we were in our polling station and everything went 100% smoothly. Our plans are to finish our walk, go home, have a nice meal, continue our relaxed day and wait for the results."
Dorit Cohen from Beersheba chose to spend her morning in a shopping mall. "I devote Election Day for shopping, to cook a tasty meal at home, to enjoy the sabbatical," she said.
"I didn't even vote today, there's no one to vote for. Always on elections I go shopping. Maybe I'll change my mind later."
Boaz Fyler, Ahia Raved, Elior Levy, Sachar Chai, Noam (Dabul) Dvir, Neri Brener and Hassan Shaalan contributed to this report
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