80,000 Rally in Tel Aviv in Protest of Judicial Overhaul
On Saturday night, tens of thousands of protestors braved pouring rain for gathering at the Habima Square in Tel Aviv in protest against the judicial overhaul planned by the new government.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new coalition wants to make sweeping changes to the judicial system in Israel, which has resulted in protests.
According to police estimates, there were approximately 80,000 people who gathered in the square and the surrounding Tel Aviv streets.
In fact, a number of protestors traveled to Tel Aviv on hired buses from around the country. There were also demonstrations in Haifa and Jerusalem.
The square was soon overflowing due to the large crowd and the people were carrying Israeli flags, umbrellas and placards that denounced the plans of the coalition for shackling the judicial system.
Many of the placards claimed to be fighting for democracy and independence. Some of the attendees were also carrying Palestinian flags.
The police had issued warnings of possible violence and Itamar Ben Gvir, the National Security Ministry, had also called for the police to take action against any unrest.
However, the demonstrations only had a few clashes between cops and protestors and mostly ended peacefully.
During the rally, the police had shuttered down the roads close to Habima Square as they wanted to maintain order.
Those attending the rally included Ehud Barak, the former prime minister, former defense minister and National Unity party leader Benny Gantz, Tzipi Livni, former opposition leader, Mansour Abbas, Ra’am party leader, Gadi Eisenkot, the National Unity lawmaker and former IDF chief and Merav Michaeli, Labor party leader.
On Thursday, Yair Lapid, the opposition leader, had said that he would not be attending the protest after he had been told that he would not be permitted to address the crowd.
This demonstration was the second week that the new government’s opposition had taken to the streets in protests against the proposals put forward by Justice Minister Yariv Levin.
The proposals are aimed at curbing and shackling the independent judiciary in Israel by severely restricting the judicial review powers of the High Court of Justice and getting political control over judges’ appointment.
Livni took the stage in Tel Aviv and said that no one can be above the law, even the prime minister, talking about the ongoing corruption trial of Benjamin Netanyahu.
She said that they would protect the state because it was for everyone. She addressed the lawmakers and said history would not forget the judicial overhaul.
Eliad Shraga, the head of the Movement for Quality Government, said that they preferred democracy over dictatorship.
Shraga also called on Isaac Herzog, the President of Israel, for declaring Netanyahu to be unfit for serving as the country’s prime minister.
He said that the new government was trying to change Israel’s DNA and harming the rights of many. Others also echoed the same thoughts when they spoke to the crowd.
The protestors marched and chanted down Ibn Gabriol Street and drummers pounded a beat.