Tens of Thousands Protest Against Far-Right Govt’ in Haifa, Tel Aviv Amid Gaza Rocket Fire

Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad agreed to a ceasefire that was slated to go into effect at 10 p.m. on Saturday after nearly five days of fighting. The truce signaled the end of the deadliest episode of cross-border firing in which at least 34 Palestinians in Gaza and two people in Israel were killed.

“Ceasefire now!”, thousands among them Hadash and Communist Party activists, gathered opposite the headquarters of the Israeli army on Kaplan Street in central Tel Aviv on Saturday evening, May 13, 2023, to rally against the military escalation in Gaza. (Photo: Zo Haderech)

According to the UN human rights office, as of 17:00 on Saturday, the total number of Palestinian fatalities has risen to 34, including at least 13 civilians, six members of armed groups, and 15 people whose status is yet to be confirmed. Among the 13 civilians were four girls, three boys, four women and two men. According to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, 147 Palestinians, including 48 children and 26 women, were injured between 9 May and 17:00 on May 13.

Two hours before the ceasefire, tens of thousands of Israelis carried on with weekly demonstrations against the Netanyahu’s far-right despite rocket fire coming from the Gaza Strip, even after protest organizers officially cancelled over security concerns the movement’s largest protest in Tel Aviv. Entering their 19th consecutive week, dozens of protests were held across the country, particularly in the north.

Thousands of protesters, among them Communist Party of Israel and Hadash activists, marched on Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv.  Several thousand protesters gathered at Habima Square and Dizengoff Square for a march down Kaplan Street in front of the Israeli army headquarters. The crowd later swelled, and blocked Azrieli Junction, where police made efforts to disperse them. The protesters waved red and Palestinian flags and Hebrew, Arabic, and English banners, some of which read, “Stop the war on Gaza,” “Our hearts are with the children of Gaza,” “No democracy with the occupation,” “Palestinian lives matter,” and “No to the aggression on Gaza.”

In the city of Haifa, thousands marched towards the city center for the main protest helmed by healthcare professionals from the group Doctors for Democracy. A contingent of protesters joined them and cried against Israel’s airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, clad with signs of children killed under the attack.  Around 1,000 people rallied at Nahalal Junction. Smaller rallies were held in other towns and interchanges as well, in the Karkur junction south of Haifa, two protesters were arrested by cops, after demonstrators blocked traffic.

Anti-government protesters have gathered in Israel every Saturday night for the past 19 weeks, since the government announced its plan to overhaul the judiciary. Though the plan is now paused as the coalition and opposition hold negotiations for a potential compromise reform plan, many in the coalition have warned they could push forward with the effort to curb the courts, and weekly rallies have continued.

Related: https://maki.org.il/en/?p=31004