The Times of Israel liveblogged Saturday’s events as they happened.

Mounted policeman hits female demonstrator at Tel Aviv anti-overhaul protest

Footage shows a mounted policeman striking a female protester, apparently with a baton, during the anti-judicial overhaul demonstration in Tel Aviv.

In response to the video, police claim the woman struck the horse in the head with the sign she was holding, and the officer responded accordingly. No such action was seen in the video of the incident.

Lior Schleien: Protesters won’t let government carry out overhaul plans

Comedian Lior Schleien (right) speaks to anti-judicial overhaul protesters in Haifa, April 1, 2023. (Walla screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Comedian Lior Schleien (right) speaks to anti-judicial overhaul protesters in Haifa, April 1, 2023. (Walla screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Speaking in Haifa, comedian Lior Schleien says protesters will not allow the government to go through with its plans.

At rallies in Tel Aviv, “the question everyone has been asking since January repeats: What will happen? They want a dictatorship here, what will happen? They want to take over the courts, oh no, what will happen? Bibi the liar and the corrupt gang that surrounds him, they have a majority in the Knesset, what will happen?” Schleien says, using Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s nickname.

“After three months of war against this terrible government, with the disorderly coup d’état they are planning, I think we all already know the answer: We won’t let them. That is what will happen,” he says.

Schleien hails the diversity of protesters, declaring “the liberal camp is standing up, and it is huge and wonderful.”

Commenting on pro-overhaul protests, Schleien says: “They are not our enemies. They are Israelis like us, and wretched politicians lied to them. They promised them security, and promised them Jewish power.”

“What has been happening in Israel for the past three months is the opposite of security, the opposite of Jewish power: [Palestinian] attacks follow attacks, innocent Israelis are murdered, and in the midst of all this the prime minister fires the defense minister just because he feels like it,” Schleien says, referencing Netanyahu’s decision to fire Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, which was met with furious protests and appears to be on hold.

“The foolish and irresponsible government is destroying relations with the United States, ripping apart the IDF from within, and is threatening to eliminate the High Court. The High Court allows us to operate in the West Bank without the world rising up against us,” he says.

Schleien slams a proposed national guard subordinate to Ben Gvir, asking: “Is this security?”

He urges protesters to “only trust ourselves,” and not to believe the prime minister, who froze the overhaul’s legislative process, or even President Isaac Herzog who is leading talks on a compromise on the reforms, or opposition party heads Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, “who once again fell into the trap of the liar, Netanyahu.”

“They didn’t understand this protest when we started it, and they still don’t understand today: There can be no compromise on democracy,” Schleien says.

Police clear anti-overhaul protesters from Ayalon

Police say they have cleared anti-judicial overhaul demonstrators from the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv.

Police used water cannons to clear the protesters, who blocked both north and southbound lanes of the major highway.

19 arrested at anti-overhaul protest; pro-overhaul demonstrator nabbed with taser

Demonstrators at a rally against the government's judicial overhaul in Tel Aviv on April 1, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Demonstrators at a rally against the government's judicial overhaul in Tel Aviv on April 1, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Police say they arrested 19 anti-judicial overhaul protesters in Tel Aviv, for allegedly disturbing public order.

In addition, a pro-overhaul protester was arrested while carrying a taser.

Report: Ramming attack suspect was officer in PA security services

The man who allegedly carried out a ramming attack in the West Bank this evening was an officer in the Palestinian Authority security services, Palestinian media reports indicate.

Mohammed Baradiyah, 23, injured three Israelis, one seriously, in the attack near the village of Beit Ummar on Saturday evening.

Soldiers shot and neutralized the assailant, the military said in a statement.

The injured were taken by paramedics to Hadassah Ein Kerem and Shaare Zedek hospitals in Jerusalem.

Author David Grossman: Coup’s instigators made ‘mistake of their lives’; compares far-right to Sicarii

Author David Grossman addresses a Jerusalem protest rally against the coalition's judicial overhaul, April 1, 2023. (Screenshot: Shomrim al Habayit HaMeshutaf)
Author David Grossman addresses a Jerusalem protest rally against the coalition's judicial overhaul, April 1, 2023. (Screenshot: Shomrim al Habayit HaMeshutaf)

Israeli author David Grossman invokes the Haggadah’s “Mah Nishtanah / Why is this night different” in his speech to several thousand anti-judicial overhaul protesters outside the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, asking the crowd: “Why is this night different from other nights?”

Because “we have changed, we the demonstrators, the protesters,” he says.

Grossman says “we ourselves did not imagine the extent of our hidden love for the life that we’ve been able to create here in Israel.”

He says modern Israel is not Herzl’s utopia, nor the ideal as set out in the Declaration of Independence. He says Israel has made mistakes, notably “the occupation of another people for 55 years.” And yet Israel has created something unique, thriving, with its own character, “even though it has felt like it has been on a tightrope for 75 years.”

But then, he says, came the current attempt to destroy its democracy.

Grossman says the mass demonstrations have come as a shock to the judicial overhaul’s instigators, who made “the mistake of their lives.”

“What’s different?” he asks. “We, who decided not to stop demonstrating… [Also] against Ben Gvir’s militia… We won’t stop… Silence is not an option.”

“The instigators of the coup did not read correctly — not our passion for freedom, nor our primal values ​​and wishes, the values of equality for each and every person, the democratic spirit, and humanity,” Grossman says.

The coming days will be a period of dialogue at the President’s Residence, “and that’s good.” But the people will return to protest with full force “the moment we recognize” that the discussion is not being conducted with integrity and honesty.

He praises the younger protesters — saying “maybe you are more desperate than us” and “maybe you feel you have no choice.”

“What is different?” he asks again. “We are the last line of defense for Israel against crushing tyranny,” he answers.

Grossman compares the “fanatics” bent on destroying Israeli democracy and everything that has been achieved here to the Sicarii Jewish zealots in the decades before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. These modern Sicarii, he warns, “will remake the entire state in their image if we let them.”

To help prevent that, too, he says, “we need a strong, independent Supreme Court.”

Police deploy water cannons against protesters blocking Ayalon Highway

Police use water cannons to clear dozens of anti-judicial overhaul protesters blocking the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv.

In a statement, protest organizers say that 450,000 people are protesting nationwide, including 230,000 in Tel Aviv.

“We will keep heading to the streets until we are promised the State of Israel will remain a democracy,” organizers say.

Hundreds of pro-overhaul demonstrators block street in Kfar Saba

Amid nationwide anti-judicial overhaul protests, hundreds of pro-overhaul protesters are blocking Weizmann Street in the central city of Kfar Saba.

The demonstrators are calling on the government to cease negotiations on a compromise reform package and carry on with their original controversial plans.

On Thursday night, some 20,000 protesters marched in support of the government’s plans in Tel Aviv, the second such rally since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paused the judicial legislation earlier this week amid growing public pressure.

Ex-senior Netanyahu staffer pictured at anti-judicial overhaul rally in Tel Aviv

Yoav Horowitz, a former chief of staff to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, has been spotted at the anti-overhaul protest in Tel Aviv.

Horowitz was a longtime close confidant of Netanyahu, and the two served together in the Israel Defense Forces elite unit Sayeret Matkal.

He was the prime minister’s chief of staff from 2016 to 2019 and was PMO director-general from May 2018, until he informed Netanyahu he would resign in June 2019.

Protesters again block Ayalon Highway; 165,000 said demonstrating in Tel Aviv

For the second time tonight, anti-judicial overhaul protesters block both routes of the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv.

Protesters blocked the highway briefly earlier in the evening.

According to updated figures by Channel 12, 165,000 people are attending the mass demonstrations in the city.

Some 150,000 protesters rally against overhaul in Tel Aviv

Approximately 140,000-150,000 are protesting the government’s judicial overhaul in Tel Aviv, Channel 12 news and Ynet report.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid is in attendance, tweeting: “We are on our guard. The danger has not passed.”

Lapid has sent negotiators to talks on a compromise reform package, but is suspicious that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s suspension of the legislative process is a delaying tactic.

Dozens of anti-overhaul protesters briefly block Ayalon

Dozens of anti-judicial overhaul protesters briefly block traffic on the Ayalon Highway, police say.

The road has been opened to traffic.

Also in Tel Aviv, police arrest three people at the Sarona Market carrying pepper spray, a switch knife and brass knuckles. Police suspect the group was on their way to attack protesters.

Three injured in suspected ramming attack in West Bank

Initial reports indicate a driver hit three Israelis near the West Bank village of Beit Ummar, in a suspected attack.

One of the three is in serious condition and the two others were lightly injured. The military says the suspect was “neutralized.” His condition is not clear.

Police chief Shabtai: ‘No doubt’ man shot by police in Jerusalem was terrorist

Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai holds a security assessment with senior officers at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Shabtai says he has “no doubt” that a Bedouin man shot by police in disputed circumstances earlier today committed a terror attack.

“The incident itself is under investigation by the internal investigations department and we cannot discuss all the details. I stress that this was a terror attack. We completely back the policemen and officers that responded,” Shabtai says.

Police say 26-year-old Mohammed Elasibi grabbed the gun of a police officer and fired it twice before he was shot dead in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Shabtai stresses that the country is going through an especially sensitive security period, referencing the ongoing Ramadan holy month.

Jerusalem District Commander Doron Turgeman also backs police at the scene and says their actions saved lives.

Both Shabtai and Turgeman emphasize the need to ensure freedom of worship in the holy city.

Ben Gvir backs police after shooting of Bedouin man in Jerusalem

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir gives his backing to police after the fatal shooting of an Arab man in Jerusalem’s Old City in disputed circumstances.

“I back the policemen in Jerusalem,” he writes. “The quick response of the police officers prevented harm to human life and I congratulate and support them.”

Police say 26-year-old Mohammed Elasibi, a resident of the Bedouin town of Hura in southern Israel, grabbed the gun of a police officer and fired it twice before he was shot dead.

Police describe the incident as a “terror attack,” while eyewitnesses and the man’s relatives deny the official account, saying he was shot in cold blood.

Man critically injured in Ramle shooting, police say

A man has been critically injured in a shooting in the central city of Ramle, police say.

The man is taken to Shamir Medical Center for treatment. Police have opened an investigation into the incident.

LGBT group warns graffiti on pride center precursor to attack on community

The Aguda Association for LGBTQ Equality says graffiti sprayed on the Tel Aviv LGBTQ Community Center is a “warning light” to a future violent attack against the community.

“LGBT-phobia is already running wild,” the statement reads. “Last week, we saw a 4 percent increase in reports of LGBT-phobia in the public space, and at demonstrations with community members who faced curses, spitting, threats, burning of pride flags and even physical violence.”

Aguda urges the government to condemn the hatred faced by the LGBT community “before it’s too late to promise complete personal security to members of the LGBT community.”

Tens of thousands rally in Tel Aviv, Haifa against judicial overhaul

Tens of thousands of people are protesting in Tel Aviv and Haifa against the government’s judicial overhaul plans for a 13th straight week.

Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Street and Azrieli Junction are filled with demonstrators. The Walla news site reports tens of thousands are rallying against the government’s plans in Haifa.

Overall, demonstrations are planned in 150 locations across the country.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday paused the legislative process of the overhaul to allow for negotiations on a compromise reform package.

But protest organizers, wary that controversial legislation giving the coalition control over judicial appointments could be brought to a vote within 24 hours, have vowed to continue organizing demonstrations until the overhaul is buried.

‘Kahane lives’ graffiti sprayed at Tel Aviv pride center

Graffiti reading “Kahane lives” — a reference to the late extremist rabbi Meir Kahane — is found sprayed on the wall and window of the Tel Aviv LGBTQ Community Center.

Police say they have opened an investigation into the incident.

Israel’s LGBTQ community has warned of danger to its members and their rights under Israel’s hard-right government.

Syria top diplomat visits Egypt in first since war

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry meets with his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad in Cairo, a first since Syria’s civil war broke out over a decade ago, Shoukry’s office says.

The meeting comes amid amplified Arab engagement with the Damascus government which has been politically isolated in the region since the start of the Syria war and was expelled from the Cairo-based Arab League in 2011 over its bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations.

Mekdad’s visit to Cairo is the “first in more than 10 years” for a Syrian top diplomat and sees a closed-door meeting between the two ministers followed by discussions between the two countries’ delegations, the Egyptian foreign ministry says.

Protesters playing Ben Gvir’s ‘militia’ march to Darth Vader’s theme

In Tel Aviv, a group of demonstrators is play-acting the national guard forces proposed by National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, which critics have said could amount to the minister’s private militia.

The masked “troops” hold a goose-stepping display to the tune of Star Wars’ menacing “Imperial March,” known to symbolize that franchise’s evil empire and ultimate bad guy Darth Vader.

Israel set for 13th Saturday night of anti-overhaul protests around the country

Opponents of the government’s overhaul plan are holding their 13th straight Saturday of nationwide protests this evening — the first since the pause in legislation announced on Monday by the prime minister.

Though talks are ongoing, few expect them to yield an agreement. Right-wing backers of the revamp held their first two major demonstrations this week — on Monday in Jerusalem and on Thursday in Tel Aviv. Each drew tens of thousands.

It remains to be seen whether opponents, who were able to bring hundreds of thousands to Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Street in recent weeks, will be able to maintain such attendance today.

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