Israelis, who hold demonstrations across the country every Saturday evening against the judicial regulation of the extreme right-wing coalition government led by Netanyahu, took to the streets again in the eighth week of the protests.
More than one hundred thousand Israelis, including opposition leaders and former state officials, participated in the demonstrations in cities such as Tel Aviv, Haifa, West Jerusalem, Birussebi, Herzliya and Netanya.
160 thousand people in the squares in Tel Aviv
As in previous weeks, tens of thousands of protesters gathered in front of the Government Complex on Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv, which hosted the largest demonstration.
According to Israeli television Channel 13, 160,000 protesters attended the Tel Aviv rally.
The demonstrators carried banners against Netanyahu’s Prime Ministership with the words “Crime Minister” in English and placards criticizing the far-right politicians in the coalition government.
The placards carried inscriptions such as “Bibi Escobar” and “Bibius Ceesar”, referring to Benjamin Netanyahu’s nickname “Bibi”.
Representatives from Israel’s different non-governmental organizations and business sectors, as well as political figures, made pro-democracy speeches on the stage set up in the square.
Among the protesters at the Tel Aviv rally were activist women, who argued that the government coalition, including ultra-religious Jewish parties, poses a threat to women’s rights.
More than a hundred women volunteers walked in costumes consisting of white hats and red robes, like the women depicted in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian book The Handmaid’s Tale, a fictional society that oppresses women.
Some groups opposing the extreme right-wing policies of the Netanyahu government and the occupation in Palestine also carried Palestinian flags and placards saying “No one is free until everyone is free” and “Liberation from Zionism”.
A group of protesters blocked Tel Aviv’s central Ayalon highway to traffic. Some people from the group that the police intervened in were detained.
In Haifa, one of the largest cities in the country, the highest rate of participation was achieved in recent weeks.
According to the Israeli police, more than 30 thousand people attended the demonstrations in Haifa.
Anti-government protesters in the city of Herzliya hung a giant banner with Israel’s Declaration of Independence on the city’s city hall against the government’s judicial regulation.
Netanyahu government’s “judicial reform”
The mass demonstrations of tens of thousands of people in Israel, especially in Tel Aviv and in different cities, against the judicial regulation and right-wing policies of the Netanyahu government, left 8 weeks behind.
Minister of Justice Yariv Levin announced on January 5 that they were planning a law 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 tensions between the government and the Israeli judiciary, especially the Supreme Court.
The Israeli Supreme Court, which serves as the highest judicial authority in the country, has the power to overturn the laws passed by the Assembly on the grounds that it violates the “fundamental laws” accepted as the draft constitution.
The Netanyahu government stated in the judicial regulation it announced that it would deprive the Supreme Court of its authority to overturn the laws passed by the Assembly.
The regulation also stipulates that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court be appointed by the judicial committee, which is majority elected by the government, and not on the basis of seniority as is currently in effect. This means that the prime minister will largely have a say in appointing the head of the Supreme Court.
Israeli Chief Prosecutor, Gali Baharav-Miara, submitted his objections to the government’s judicial regulation in writing and shared that his concerns were focused on the deterioration of “separation of powers, independence of the judiciary and protection of individual rights”.