More than 100,000 Israelis took to the streets of Tel Aviv and other cities on Saturday to protest the government’s plans to reform the judiciary. Reserve officers and soldiers of the Special Operations Department of the Military Intelligence joined the protest. They threatened to stop reporting to duty if the government pushed for controversial changes.
Many of the protests were attended by opposition politicians, and major streets were closed to traffic by police to allow thousands of people to attend rallies, The Times of Israel reported. Protests took place in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and other cities.
“We will not let you crush Israeli democracy”
Former Prime Minister and current leader of the opposition present at the protest Yair Lapid He said: “We will not let you crush Israeli democracy, and we have no intention of remaining silent in the face of your venomous incitement. Former Israeli police chief Roni Alsheich, speaking in Tel Aviv, called the government’s plans “a regime revolution that will transfer all power to the executive without any checks and balances.” “We have a state police force that will refuse to carry out any clearly illegal orders,” he said.
Strong military opposition
The Times of Israel revealed that on Friday more than 100 reserve officers and soldiers from the Special Operations Division of Military Intelligence strongly opposed the planned changes, warning in an open letter that they would stop serving if the government began implementing its plans. The military called on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government to immediately halt the proposed changes and seek consensus instead of trying to “uproot Israeli democracy.” The draft reform of the judiciary provides, among other things, for greater government control over the election of Supreme Court judges, as well as the possibility of repealing judgments of this court by a majority of 61 votes in the 120-member Knesset.
Main photo source: EPA/ABIR SULTAN