Anti-government protesters march towards the Israeli Knesset parliament in Jerusalem, 11 July 2023. EFE-EPA/ATEF SAFADI

120 arrested in protests against Israel’s judicial reform

Jerusalem, July 12 (EFE).- Israeli police have arrested at least 120 people during massive demonstrations against a controversial judicial reform that restricts the oversight powers of the Supreme Court, according to protest organizers on Wednesday.

Police use water cannon against anti government protesters blocking the entrance to Jerusalem, 11 July 2023. EFE-EPA/ABIR SULTAN

Some 13 people suffered mild injuries in clashes with security forces during protests on the so-called “Day of Resistance” across the country, said the organizers.

The demonstrations against the controversial measure of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government saw critical roads and highways blocked, marches across the country, and a large protest gathering outside Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport.

Nocturnal protests were staged in Haifa, Beersheva, and Jerusalem cities as tens of thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv, blocking the highway that runs through the city center.

Police dispersed the protesters to clear the highway using water cannons.

Police arrested scores of protesters for “violating public order,” as anti-reform groups appealed for civil disobedience actions.

Many demonstrators were set free shortly after their arrest.

According to its critics, the judicial reform of the ultra-right government does away with a vital safeguard for the separation of powers in a country where the executive and legislative branches overlap.

They say the proposed legislation, which got a first parliamentary approval on Tuesday, could potentially lead Israel toward autocracy as it curbs judiciary powers and clips the wings of the Supreme Court.

The reasonableness curtailment bill needs two more parliamentary readings before it becomes law.

The reasonableness doctrine allowed the Supreme Court to review and revoke government decisions based on their reasonability.

The bill is part of the judicial reform agenda by Netanyahu’s government, marking the first approval of a proposed judicial overhaul since the prime minister suspended it in March due to protests and a general strike.

While the government remains unfazed due to new protests against the reform, critics have too been unrelenting.

Military reservists have warned that they will not report for duty in the army if the government goes ahead with the plan.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned Tuesday that the threat not to report for duty harmed security of Israel.

Gallant urged people on both sides of the debate over the reform not to politicize the army. EFE