Well over 100,000 Israelis demonstrated on Saturday evening for the fifth straight week against the far-right government proposed in dozens of locations throughout the country, including in Haifa, Beersheba, Jerusalem, Kfar Saba, Modi’in, Nes Ziona, Herzliya, Caesarea, Beit Shemesh, Karmiel, Nof HaGalil, Eilat and two locations in Tel Aviv, at Habima Square and on Kaplan Street.
Tens of thousands of gathered in Tel Aviv , crowds carrying Israeli, Palestinian an red flags, filled the city’s central Kaplan street with signs labelling the new government a “threat to world peace”.
Chanting “there’s no such thing as democracy and occupation,” several hundreds of left-wing Israelis of the Anti-Occupation Bloc hold court in a prominent corner. Among them, activists of Hadash, the Communist Party of Israel, Young Communist League, Peace Now, Mahsom Watch, Standing Together, Yesh Gvul, Yesh Din, Mesarvot, Women in Black, Gisha, Physicians for Human Rights, Academy for Equality and other groups. Activists of the Anti-Occupation Bloc also marched in Jerusalem and Haifa.
Hadash demonstrators and Anti-Occupation Bloc activists marching at Kaplan Street in Tel-Aviv with red and Palestinian flags, Saturday, February 5, 2023 (Photo: Zo Haderech)
Shikma Bressler, an activist with the Black Flags anti-Netanyahu movement told the crowd that “The time to be polite is over… This government needs to feel the earth shake under its feet.” Chairwoman of the Aguda (Israel’s LGBT Task Force) Hila Pe’er said: “For us, this is a war for our lives, and when our lives are threatened – we will fight back.” She added, “We will protest, we will strike, and when the door is shut in our faces – we will break a wall.”
Although the protest had officially ended, demonstrators continued on in Tel Aviv, where police forcibly removed people who marched onto the Ayalon freeway to block traffic.
In Jerusalem, the protest began with chants and speeches followed by the weekly march to nearby Paris Square, close to the prime minister’s official residence. Speakers included Hebrew University law professor Yoav Dotan, who spoke against the current government’s attempts to create “an all-out assault” on the state apparatus. “The most important thing we can do is to be here,” said Dotan. “To win this battle, we’ll win it by being here — the thousands who are already here — and bringing the thousands more who feel the same way. We need half a million in the streets.”
In a position paper publicized on Thursday, Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara said the far-right government’s plans would give it virtually unrestrained power, without providing any institutional protections for individual rights or for “Israel’s democratic character.” In their current form, Baharav-Miara is not expected to defend the plans at the High Court of Justice if and when petitions are filed against them.