For the 18th week in a row, hundreds of thousands of protesters rallied across Israel on Saturday evening against the far-right government’s plans to overhaul the judicial system. The protests included roadblocks, marches and artistic displays in 150 of locations throughout the country. The activities continued throughout the day, including a significant wave in the morning and another in the afternoon and evening. Four protesters were arrested: three in Haifa and one at Hakfar Hayarok junction near Tel-Aviv.
In addition, Anti-Occupation Bloc activists, among them Hadash and Communist Party of Israel members, rallied on Saturday night in several locations among them Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Herzliya, Beer-Sheba, Netanya, Kfar Saba, Carmiel, Hod Hasharon, HaGomeh Junction in Upper Galilee, Tzemach Junction at the Sea of Galilee and Pardes Hanna–Karkur.
The poll published Friday by Channel 12: 84% of the respondents said the government was doing poorly in the war on crime, with only 11% approving (Footage: Channel 12)
The main demonstration was held at Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv and Hebrew media outlets estimated turnout at 100,000-180,000. In Haifa, demonstrators marched from the Carmel neighborhood to Horev, leading to the central demonstration there later in the evening. Some 7,000 demonstrated near the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, where the overhaul compromise talks are being held. Protest leaders also warned on Friday that legislation was still technically on the table in the Knesset, and could quickly be passed. “The sword of the dictatorship has not been removed when the legislation is prepared and waiting to turn Israel into a messianic and dangerous dictatorship,” said the activists. Protest organizers called on Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz to end their participation in the talks soon, saying that the discussions with the coalition were “a plot by [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu to waste time in order to pass a budget.” If a resolution is not reached in the coming days, they said, the opposition should exit the negotiations.
Along with the protests against the judicial overhaul, the government is also facing rising discontent on other fronts, with a poll published Friday by Channel 12 finding high levels of disapproval including among voters of parties in the far-right coalition. As violent crime surges, 84% of the respondents said the government was doing poorly in the war on crime, with only 11% approving. Seventy-two percent of the coalition’s backers also said the government was doing badly, while 21% said it was doing well. With inflation up, 86% gave the government a thumbs down on the cost of living, versus 11% who said it’s doing a good job. Three-quarters of voters of parties in the government said it was doing poorly, and 20% said it was doing well.