While the Netanyahu government has given the message that it will continue its controversial judicial regulation, the mass protests organized by groups that consider it “interference with the judiciary” have entered its 11th week.
Protest demonstrations were held at dozens of points scattered across the country in large cities and small settlements.
In Tel Aviv, the focal point of the demonstrations, the police took extensive precautions in the city center. The roads around Kaplan Street, the center of the protests in Tel Aviv, were closed to traffic.
Music was broadcast from different stages set up on the street. The anti-Netanyahu protest movement announced that names in active politics will not be speaking on the stages set up in Tel Aviv this week, and that this step “is aimed at keeping the demonstrations away from political parties”.
Demonstrators, carrying Israeli flags, often chanted “Shame on democracy” and the government. A large banner reading “Crime Minister”, which has become frequently used for Netanyahu’s prime ministership, was unfurled in the demonstration area.
Banners and cartoons containing statements against National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who are in Netanyahu’s ruling coalition and stand out with their far-right and racist policies, attracted attention.
The group of thousands marched from the busy Dziengoff Street in downtown Tel Aviv to Kaplan Street. Some of the demonstrators wore striped prisoner costumes and a Netanyahu mask to signal ongoing corruption cases against Netanyahu.
The demonstrators asked the police, “Where were you in Huwwara?” he chanted.
They closed the main artery of Tel Aviv
The demonstrators closed the Ayalon Highway, the main artery of Tel Aviv, in one way at night. Protesters marching with Israeli flags chanted “If you do not provide justice, we will shut down Ayalon”.
Israeli police intervened the demonstrators using mounted police units and force. The plainclothes police detained at least 4 demonstrators.
During the clash that broke out during the police intervention to the demonstrators, some policemen attacked the members of the press. Police forcefully removed the demonstrators from the highway and cleared the road to traffic.
Hundreds of thousands of Israelis participated in the demonstrations held in dozens of locations across the country, especially in Tel Aviv, and in major cities such as Haifa and West Jerusalem. The Israeli press wrote that more than 250 thousand Israelis across the country took to the streets against the government’s judicial regulation.
A Bedouin group of about 50 people living in Hura in southern Israel also held a protest against the judicial regulation. The Israeli press shared photos of Bedouin demonstrators holding banners with the words “This is our home” and “Equal rights for all”. It was pointed out that Israeli citizen Bedouin Arabs living in the south of Israel had not participated in anti-government protests before.
Person who painted the house of the Minister of Justice detained
According to reports in the Israeli media, a 60-year-old person was detained on the allegation that Minister of Justice Yariv Levin, who is considered the architect of the Netanyahu government’s judicial regulation, wrote “enemy of the people” with red paint on the outside of his house in Modiin.
On the other hand, some female demonstrators, inspired by a television series broadcast in the USA, repeated their march against the judicial regulation by wearing red cloaks and white bonnets this week. Images of these marches held in several different parts of the country were given in the Israeli media.
A group of hundreds of people demonstrating in the north of Israel also blocked the highway connecting the country’s north-south line to traffic. The police intervened the demonstrators with batons and dirty water.
In the city of Or Akiva in northern Israel, a group opposing the judicial regulation and a supporter of the government demonstrated in the same area. An egg was thrown from the Netanyahu supporter group to the opposite side. Police detained three people.
According to reports in the Israeli press, opponents of the Netanyahu government came face to face with supporters of the government in different parts of the country. There was a quarrel between the parties.
Controversial judicial regulation in Israel
Minister of Justice Yariv Levin announced on January 5 that they were planning a “judicial reform” that would limit the powers of the Supreme Court and reduce the influence of the judiciary on the selection of judges.
The moves of the coalition government led by Netanyahu to transfer some of the powers of the judiciary to the Parliament caused tension between the government and the Israeli judiciary, especially the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court of Israel, acting as the highest judicial authority in the country, has the authority to overturn the laws passed by the Assembly on the grounds that they are contrary to the “fundamental laws” accepted as the draft Constitution. The Netanyahu government stated in the regulation it announced that this authority would be taken away from the court to a large extent.
This regulation of the government, which restricts the powers of the judiciary and envisages the power to have a say in judicial appointments, was heavily criticized within Israel and internationally.
Mass protests against the Netanyahu government’s judicial regulation have been going on for weeks.
The alternative bill presented by President Isaac Herzog, warning the parties of “civil war”, was also rejected by the government.
Hundreds of reservists of the Israeli army, affiliated with units such as fighter pilots, submarine officers, cyber security experts, and special forces, have announced that they will not continue their duties or attend training if the government implements the controversial judicial regulation.
Internal and external intelligence agencies and employees of other security institutions also opposed the regulation with their statements.