Tens of thousands of Israelis took to the streets Tuesday in response to a vote held overnight in the Knesset, during which the Benjamin Netanyahu-led far-right government advanced one of the key bills in the judicial upheaval legislation. Thousands of anti-government protesters massed at Israel’s main airport, and blocked main roads across the country and streets with large rallies in Tel Aviv and in other cities.
Hadash and Communist Party of Israel activists, among them MK Ofer Cassit gathered Tuesday night against occupation of the Palestinian territories at Kaplan Street, July 11, 2023 (Photo: Zo Haderech)
While the protests were overwhelmingly non-violent – as was the case in previous anti-overhaul demonstrations – 120 people were arrested throughout the day. Among those arrested near Ben Gurion Airport was an army officer with the rank of captain. Most of the detained were for blocking roads. Also, Israeli rock star Aviv Geffen being detained by police at the Tel Aviv rally. The video showed Geffen calmly being led away by three plainclothes officers, tailed by a crowd yelling “shame.” Geffen, among Israel’s most popular rock stars, has become a fixture of the protest movement. “I didn’t do anything. The cop pushed me forcefully,” Geffen said.
Hundreds of doctors and medical professionals wearing white robes gathered in Tel-Aviv under a banner claiming the legislation has caused a medical emergency. “There is no human medicine or compassion in a dictatorship,” Professor Doron Kopelman, Head of the surgical department at the Technion said. Medical teams at the Rabin Medical Center in Petach Tikva and Assaf Harofeh Hospital near Trzifin, also walked out to join the protest. Toward the end of the evening, police intensified their dispersal measures, deploying a water cannon in Kaplan Street in Central Tel Aviv as well as other cities, and several incidents of officers beating demonstrators were caught on camera.
Other demonstrations continued into the night in cities around the country, including around 2,000 people in the southern city of Beersheba and several thousands of protesters in Jerusalem halt traffic on main streets. In Haifa, more than 15 thousand gathered in several points. Smaller rallies took place in the evening at Ness Ziona, Rehovot, Hod Hasharon, Mevaseret Zion, Modi’in, Gedera, Eilat, Pardes Hanna and Herzliya, as well as at traffic junctions around the country.
During the morning protesters blocked the Hasira Junction in Herzliya set up tents, and set tires alight. They were forcibly removed by the police. Road 443 was blocked in a demonstration led by the “Brothers in Arms” organization. On Road 65 in the north, a sign was erected saying “No Entry to Dictatorship”. The police removed demonstrators on Road 2 and arrested one of them. The road was reopened to traffic. The Ayalon South highway was blocked at KKL junction. Police have arrested nine demonstrators. The Hemed interchange on Road 1 near Jerusalem was also blocked, six people were arrested and a Hebrew University lecturer injured at Maccabim junction.
At the afternoon, Arnon Bar David, chairman of the Histadrut, Israel’s largest labor union called on far-right Prime Minister Netanyahu to halt his legislative push although he would not commit to joining the protests. “Stop this mad chaos,” he said, speaking in Tel Aviv.
Rallies were also held by the UnXeptable movement of Israelis abroad at airports in London, Madrid, New York, Paris, Munich, Seoul, San Francisco, Washington, Seattle, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Zurich. The protesters distributed leaflets in Hebrew to Israelis flying back to Israel.