100,000 Rally in Israel to Protest Netanyahu’s Far-right Gov’t

Tens of thousands of Israelis took to the streets in central Tel Aviv on Saturday to protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new far-right coalition government. Heavy rain started early Saturday evening, raising worries that the weather could affect attendance, but opposition leaders called on protesters to come out despite the wet conditions. Police in Tel Aviv said around 80,000 protesters had gathered at and around Habima square.

Protests were also taking place in Jerusalem, Haifa and other cities, as center and left-wing parties, including Hadash and the Communist Party of Israel called on Jews and Arabs to reject new government policies.  The demonstration marked the second week that opponents of Netanyahu’s government took to the streets.

Hadash and Communist Party activists during the protest held in Tel-Aviv against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023 (Photo: Zo Haderech)

The demonstrations were organized under the call of “saving democracy”, in criticism of hardline stances the government has adopted, including planned reforms to the country’s justice system. 

For former Justice Minister, Tzipi Livni, told the crown:  “A government in Israel went to war against the democratic institutions themselves, in order to rule without straits. No debate, no legitimate criticism, but political takeover. No, elections do not give those in power to destroy democracy itself. Poison, lies, slandering each other, marking as an enemy anyone who thinks otherwise; all so that we crumble into pieces and become weaker as a society before the big attack, the dismantling of the defensive wall of democracy on all fronts.”

“They can call us traitors, but we are the ones who are protecting the homeland from them. They can threaten us with handcuffs – we are not afraid,” Livni said.

The chair of the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, Eliad Shraga, agreed: “Always remember that we prefer the cold and the rain of liberal democracy than the heat and hell of a fascist dictatorship.” Shraga called on President Isaac Herzog to declare Netanyahu as unfit to serve as prime minister.

After the central demonstration, about 200 protesters walked on to HaShalom Interchange and tried to move towards the Ayalon Highway, but were stopped by police forces. Smaller groups of protestors attempted to get around the police blockade and were subsequently restrained by police forces.

On Friday, left-wing Israeli activists participated alongside Palestinians in raising the Palestinian flag during a protest at occupied East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. The Israeli and Palestinian activists defied directives issued by racist National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir on Sunday.

For years, Israeli and Palestinian activists have been organizing Friday demonstrations to protest occupation and the evacuation of Palestinian homes in Sheikh Jarrah to replace them with Israeli settlers. During the demonstration, many raised the Palestinian flag and demonstrators chanted against the Israeli occupation and its settlement projects. Communist leading activists and Hadash Lawmaker Ofer Cassif wrapped himself in the Palestinian flag during the demonstration. “We came, and we are still waving,” referring to attending the demonstration in Jerusalem and raising the Palestinian flag, he said to journalists.

Related: https://maki.org.il/en/?p=30771