Police, demonstrators prepare for larger anti-government protests in Tel Aviv

Police and anti-government protesters were preparing for massive protests Saturday night in Tel Aviv, expected to draw about 100,000 people according to estimates cited in a Friday night TV report. Other gatherings are planned for elsewhere in the country, including Jerusalem, Haifa and Beersheba.

Channel 12 reported that police approved plans to deploy 1,000 officers in Tel Aviv and block vehicular access to major roads from midday as protesters geared up for a third consecutive weekend of protest against government-led plans Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to implement radical changes to the judiciary that would limit the Supreme Court’s powers.

A protest organized by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel is expected to begin at 7 p.m. Saturday night in Habima Square, while additional protests organized by other groups will see protesters march nearby, down Kaplan Street to the government complex in Tel Aviv. The organizers said the switch from Habima Square will allow more people to attend in a less residential area. The northbound and southbound exits to the Ayalon Highway from the Hashalom interchange, near the protest, will also be closed to traffic.

Traffic disruptions, including cancellations of public buses, are also expected on Menachem Begin Street, Arlozorov Street, Namir Road, Shaul Hamelech Boulevard and Dubnow Street until the protests end on Saturday evening.

The Movement for Quality Government in Israel said it would protest under the banner of “’Freedom. Equivalence. Quality of Government,” against the dangerous revolution that the new government intends to promote, a revolution that will destroy Israeli democracy.”

“We will continue to raise our voices against these evil and dangerous plans,” the group said in a statement, calling for legal protests across the country.

In an assessment Thursday, police predicted bigger crowds will show up in Tel Aviv this Saturday than last week’s demonstration – which was held during heavy rains – of some 80,000, after a clear weather forecast and a packed Supreme Court ruling this week. week in which Shas chief Aryeh was declared Deri is not eligible to become a minister.

Police officials also expressed fear of clashes with right-wing counter-demonstrators, who have taken to social media for pro-government activists to take to the streets, Channel 12 reported on Friday.

Smaller protests are also expected to take place in Jerusalem, Haifa and other locations across the country.

After skipping last week’s events, opposition leader Yair Lapid said he would be in attendance this weekend and will reportedly lead a march along with other members of the opposition, including National Unity party head Benny Gantz. Former Defense Minister and IDF chief Moshe Ya’alon, who left politics in 2021 and has been a fierce Netanyahu critic, and former Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber are expected to speak at the demonstrations, Channel 12 reported Friday.

Gantz called on Israelis across the political spectrum to come out on Saturday in a video posted to social media on Friday.

“Whatever your political views, on Saturday night everyone takes to the streets to tell the government – ​​yes, it is possible to make broad agreements. [to draft reforms more acceptable to the public] but we shouldn’t go over what the country’s founders wrote in the Declaration of Independence, and what we built here for 75 years,” he said.

“We march to say yes to reforms and no to vengeful measures that will dismantle Israeli resilience and democracy,” he added.

MK Gideon Sa’ar, the number 2 in National Unity, said on Friday he would also attend the protest and called on members of his right-wing New Hope sub-faction to join the rally after being absent from the latest demonstration.

“We are at the height of the struggle for Israel’s future. There is no left or right in the struggle to protect the democratic regime. This fateful struggle of the country’s citizens is for the sake of the future of our children in this country, a struggle forced upon us by a dangerous and rampant government,” Sa’ar wrote to party activists through the Telegram messaging app.

The Movement for Quality Government previously explained that there would be two separate protest locations, on Habima Square and on Kaplan Street, due to expectations of more people coming this weekend.

The Black Flag protest group, one of the organizers of the Kaplan Street protest, said it has seen an increase in interest in attendance following Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling on Deri and urged opposition politicians to show up.

“Following the attack on the judiciary over Deri’s disqualification and calls from the coalition to disobey the verdict, the organizers of the demonstration call on the heads of the opposition parties to announce that they will come to the mass demonstration and stand to keep. at the head of the protest march,” the group said in a statement.

Student Protest, which describes itself as an impartial group fighting for democracy, also pledged to join the demonstrations. The group launched a coordinated one-hour “strike” on universities against the reforms on Monday.

Last weekend’s protests focused on the government’s proposal to make sweeping changes to the judicial system, with plans to increase political control over the selection of judges and ban the Supreme Court from exercising judicial oversight over Knesset laws and government policies .

Following the judges’ ruling on Wednesday that Deri could not serve as Minister of the Interior and Health in the government due to recent and past criminal convictions, the coalition looked for a way to circumvent the decision and allow Deri another high-ranking role. to give. The Shas leader is said to be in talks with Netanyahu for the role of deputy prime minister, although disagreements would remain.

Coalition members have denounced the court’s decision and said they will try to get around it.

Following the ruling, the anti-Netanyahu protest group Crime Minister called on the public to take to the streets in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Beersheba and Modiin.

At last weekend’s rally, police estimated some 80,000 people gathered in Habima Square and surrounding streets, while smaller demonstrations were held in Jerusalem and Haifa.

Those in attendance in Tel Aviv over the weekend included former opposition leader Tzipi Livni, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Gantz, former IDF and National Unity chief MK Gadi Eisenkot, Labor leader Merav Michaeli and Ra’am chief Mansour Abbas.

After the protest, Netanyahu brushed off criticism at the weekly cabinet meeting, arguing that the planned changes would strengthen democracy rather than hasten its end. He also argues that the government carries out the will of the people.

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