More than 130,000 demonstrators came out Saturday night to protest the new far-right government’s plans to weaken Israel’s court system. The vast majority of the protesters, 120,000, were in Tel Aviv, while several thousands of others participated in protests in Jerusalem, Haifa and Beer Sheva. Organizers assessed turnout at some 150,000.
Hadash and the Communist Party of Israel called on the public to take the streets against fascism in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Beer Sheba, Herzliya, Modi’in, Rosh Pina in the Northern Galilee and Ketura Junction in the Southern Arava.
Hadash demonstrators marching at Kaplan Street in Tel-Aviv with red flags and anti-occupation slogans, Saturday, January 21, 2023 (Photo: Zo Haderech)
The large protest in Tel Aviv started at 8 p.m. on Kaplan Street and then turned into a march that went go through Menahem Begin, Parashat Drahim, Arlozorov, Derech Namir, Shaul Hamelech and Dubnow streets. The march was end at the Tel Aviv Governmental Complex at 11 p.m. Roads were closed by police from before 4 p.m., drawing outrage from protestors who claimed that the closures were being done so early to restrict protesting and stop them from being able to reach the location.
Revered Israeli author David Grossman addressed the crowd, “Now is the hour of darkness. Now is the moment to stand up and cry out: This land is in our souls. What happens in it today, will determine what it will be and who we and our children will become.” Att. Avi Himi, chair of the Israel Bar Association, told those gathered: “You never got a mandate to change the regime, you never got a mandate to destroy democracy.”
In Jerusalem, several thousand people demonstrated near the President’s Residence. The protesters chanted, “The people are determined: This is not Hungary,” “We’re setting a red line for [Justice Minister Yariv] Levin,” “We won’t be silent as long as there is inequality,” and simply “Democracy.” A handful of pro-Netanyahu protesters with banners reading “leftist traitors” held a counter-demonstration, but were kept away from the main protest by police.
In Haifa were held two demonstrations, at 6:00 p.m. at Horev junction and at 7:30 p.m., another demonstration in the German Colony, organized by Hadash with the participation of MKs Ayman Odeh and Aida Touma-Sliman.