Israelis rally against judicial reforms in largest-ever demonstration
Jerusalem, Mar 12 (EFE).- Around half a million Israelis took to the streets across the country to demonstrate against prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned overhaul of the justice system, in what the organizing civil society groups said Sunday was the largest protest in Israel’s history.
The Black Flag and the Movement for Quality Government in Israel have been bringing hundreds of thousands of Israelis together in the country’s major cities for 10 consecutive weeks to condemn the judicial reforms proposed by Netanyahu’s far-right government, which would allow a simple parliamentary majority to overturn Supreme Court rulings, change the composition of the judge selection committee and restrict the Supreme Court from reviewing and changing basic laws.
Much of Israeli society view the controversial reforms as a threat to the country’s democratic foundations.
In Tel Aviv alone, some 240,000 protesters shouting “Democracy! Democracy!” and “No to dictatorship” packed the streets, while in Haifa, there were 55,000, according to the groups’ count.
Several thousand others rallied in Jerusalem, Netanya, Ashdod, Raanana, Sderot, Herzliya, and several other cities.
Former prime minister and current opposition leader Yair Lapid told the more than 8,000 gathering in the southern city of Beer Sheva that Israel was “facing the greatest crisis in its history.”
On Thursday, roadblocks were set up across the country, including on the main route to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion international airport to prevent Netanyahu from flying to Italy, forcing the prime minister to be airlifted to the airport by helicopter.
Far-right national security minister Itamar Ben Gvir, in response to what was dubbed a “Day of Disruption”, announced the removal of Tel Aviv district police chief Amichai Eshed but attorney general Gali Baharav-Miara immediately froze the dismissal, questioning the legality of the decision.
Kobi Shabtai, the Israeli chief of police, admitted the removal had been a “mistake” and promised to protect the right to protest as long as it is within the law.EFE