Israelis hit the streets again to protest judicial reform
Israeli police on Thursday fired water cannon at protesters blocking a highway in Tel Aviv, an AFP journalist said, as demonstrators across the country rallied against the government’s judicial reform programme.
Tens of thousands of Israelis protested in Tel Aviv and other cities, according to crowd estimates by Israeli media, decrying what they view as a threat to the country’s democracy.
Demonstrator Nadav Golander warned of a “dictatorship” if the government presses forward with its controversial programme that would give politicians more power over the courts.
“The people understand… that they will not stop,” said Golander, 37.
“Of all the ‘days of paralysis’… this is the most important, there are loads of people,” he added, referring to the name used by organisers.
Many demonstrators were carrying Israeli flags and some clashed with officers, with police reporting at least 10 arrests in Tel Aviv over public order offences.
Lihi Duga, a 22-year-old student, said she feared the police response.
“I’m small and the police officers are violent,” she told AFP.
Thousands of people also rallied in Jerusalem outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence, Israeli media said.
Police did not give an estimate of the number of protesters.
Rallies were also held in the northern city of Haifa and southern Beersheba.
The reforms were announced by Justice Minister Yariv Levin in January, days after the government took office. They have since been met with regular protests across Israel.
Netanyahu and his extreme-right and ultra-Orthodox Jewish allies say the proposed changes are necessary to diminish the powers of the Supreme Court, which they argue has become politicised.
Domestic critics fear the plans threaten the country’s democracy, while Israel’s allies abroad have also raised their concerns about the overhaul.
In a call Sunday with Netanyahu, US President Joe Biden voiced support for a “compromise” and stressed the importance of “genuine checks and balances”, the White House said.