Israel’s Third “Day of Disruption”: Tens of Thousands Protest, Block Roads

Massive protests began early on Thursday morning across the country in Israel’s third “Day of Disruption.” Israelis gathered in their thousands at Kaplan interchange and Ayalon highway, blocking the entrances and exits to the highway against the far-right government.

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets across Israel as part of a day of “escalating resistance to dictatorship”, blocking roads and protesting the government’s continued advance of controversial legislation to radically overhaul the judiciary and restrict the powers of the High Court of Justice.

Hadash students at the Tel-Aviv University protest against the far-right Israeli government and their planned fascist reforms, March 16, 2023 (Photo: Zo Haderech)

The first demonstration took place at sea, where a flotilla of Israeli Navy reservists blocked entry to the Haifa Port for commercial ships early on Thursday morning. “The Navy will not sail into a dictatorship,” signs hung on the reservists’ boats read.

In Tel Aviv, police on horseback twice cleared demonstrators who burst through barricades onto the Ayalon Highway, shutting it down for at least half an hour. The protesters, waving flags, sang and danced and chanted “We are not afraid” and “Democracy” as they were dispersed by officers. At least 10 demonstrators were detained in those incidents. Protests were also held outside the US and British embassies in Tel Aviv. At least 21 people were detained in several incidents, including two motorists accused of pepper-spraying demonstrators who blocked the road.

“Tomorrow, hundreds of thousands of Israelis will go out” and protest in planned nationwide demonstrations Thursday, organizers said in a statement Wednesday. They said “determined protest” was the only chance to “stop the regime coup” after Netanyahu and members of his right-wing, far-right, and ultra-Orthodox coalition quickly rejected a proposal made by President Isaac Herzog on Wednesday for a broadly agreed-upon alternative framework to the coalition’s fascist package of legislation.

Many of the protesters said they were inspired to come out and demonstrate after the government showed no signs of slowing down its legislative efforts and rejected the proposal from President Herzog on Wednesday night.