‘Largest protests yet’
Masses rally against curbing of judiciary
Masses of Israelis took part in protests again last Saturday evening against the government’s efforts to radically remake the country’s justice system, with estimates pointing to 130,000-160,000 in Tel Aviv and tens of thousands more around the country.
Beyond the main rally in central Tel Aviv, a particularly large demonstration was held in Haifa, where media estimated some 30,000 participated. Other protests in Jerusalem, Herzliya, Beersheba and other cities drew many more thousands.
Organisers claimed that some 300,000 took part in rallies around the country, making the latest demonstrations the largest ones yet.
The coalition’s plans for the judiciary have sparked mass protests and warnings of the potential for extensive economic and social harm from top public figures including jurists, economists, business leaders, high-tech entrepreneurs and reservists from top military units.
In Tel Aviv, demonstrators waved Israeli flags and countless home-made placards, bearing such messages as “No Constitution, No Democracy,” “They Shall Not Pass” and “We Shall Override”.
Some demonstrators set tyres and wooden planks alight on the road, which was blocked for several hours.
Police said 21 protesters had been arrested.
Cops also opened an investigation into one protester seen writing graffiti on the highway calling Netanyahu a “traitor”.
A few police officers were hurt by violent demonstrators, the force stated, including two who were bitten by rioters.
In response to those events, National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir said the events “show that this is a protest of anarchists”, accused the demonstrators of an “illegal rampage” and said he expected police to show “zero tolerance”.
Ahead of the protests, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a series of tweets that the opposition was seeking anarchy in the country.
“They are intending to create anarchy in the State of Israel and to harm its economy in order to bring a sixth election,” he wrote, while opposition leaders have been “silent in the face of explicit calls by protest leaders for bloodshed, use of weapons, civil rebellion, assassinating the prime minister … they just cannot accept that they lost the election.”
Netanyahu said he was calling on “responsible voices in the opposition not to cooperate with this lawlessness” and instead to immediately enter “serious dialogue for the good of the citizens of Israel and the State of Israel”.
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid tweeted to Netanyahu, “The time has come to end your lies.”
The next day of nationwide protests was planned for Wednesday, which protest organisers said would be “a day of struggle” around the country.
TIMES OF ISRAEL