About 300 people participated in an illegal Purim party in Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market Wednesday night and then moved festivities to Rothschild Boulevard after police dispersed revelers.
The event took place a day before a three-day nighttime curfew was set to come into force from Thursday through Sunday between 8:30pm and 5am in an effort to minimize gatherings during the holiday.
Members of the crowd were seen celebrating in close quarters without masks and drinking alcoholic beverages on the street as nearby pubs offered take-out services.
“We've done nothing wrong," a 26-year-old reveler called Yarden said. "All I did was go out with friends to drink beer and somehow this party has suddenly started. It was very strange, but on the other hand, everybody was young. After about an hour, cops showed up and told everyone to leave.”
Shortly after, hundreds gathered on Rothschild Boulevard, near Tel Aviv’s prominent Rabin Square, including minors.
Police officers arrived at the scene and handed fines to several businesses for noise and prohibited gathering.
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein slammed the partygoers Thursday morning, saying that those who had taken part in mass gatherings the night before were responsible for future coronavirus infections and deaths in Israel.
"Those celebrating at these contagion parties should know — a spike in infection will be registered in your names, business closures will be because of you, loss of human life will be on your conscience," Edelstein told Army Radio.
"You see the situation, you see how young people also fall into serious illness. How death reaches all ages. Come to your senses! It’s not too late.”
Coronavirus czar Prof. Nachman Ash also criticized the “outrageous pictures of irresponsible mass celebrations and gatherings” in Tel Aviv.
“The responsibility is in the hands of the public, and it is very unfortunate that this is how they choose to behave these days, when the morbidity figures are still high,” Ash said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the Transportation Ministry instructed bus companies to bolster their services between Jerusalem and Bnei Brak on Sunday as many are expected to gather for Shushan Purim celebrat.