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‘Night is descending upon Israel’: Masses rally against Netanyahu’s government

Over 110,000 gather in Tel Aviv, thousands more in Jerusalem, Haifa, Beersheba; Lapid: ‘People who love the country have come to defend its democracy’

  • People march in a protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his his far-right government that his opponents say threaten democracy and freedoms, in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
    People march in a protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his his far-right government that his opponents say threaten democracy and freedoms, in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
  • Protesters against the proposed changes to the justice system in Tel Aviv, on January 21, 2023 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
    Protesters against the proposed changes to the justice system in Tel Aviv, on January 21, 2023 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
  • A protester attends a rally against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new hard-right government in the coastal city of Tel Aviv on January 21, 2023. (Jack Guez/AFP)
    A protester attends a rally against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new hard-right government in the coastal city of Tel Aviv on January 21, 2023. (Jack Guez/AFP)
  • Israeli protesters carry torches during a rally against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new government, in Tel Aviv on January 21, 2023. (Jack Guez/AFP)
    Israeli protesters carry torches during a rally against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new government, in Tel Aviv on January 21, 2023. (Jack Guez/AFP)
  • Israeli protesters attend a rally against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new far-right government at Habima Square in Tel Aviv, on January 21, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
    Israeli protesters attend a rally against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new far-right government at Habima Square in Tel Aviv, on January 21, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
  • Israelis protest Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his his far-right government that his opponents say threaten democracy and freedoms, in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
    Israelis protest Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his his far-right government that his opponents say threaten democracy and freedoms, in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
  • Israeli protesters attend a rally against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new far-right government in the coastal city of Tel Aviv on January 21, 2023. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
    Israeli protesters attend a rally against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new far-right government in the coastal city of Tel Aviv on January 21, 2023. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
  • Israeli protesters attend a rally against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new far-right government in the coastal city of Tel Aviv on January 21, 2023. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
    Israeli protesters attend a rally against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new far-right government in the coastal city of Tel Aviv on January 21, 2023. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
  • Protesters against the Netanyahu-led government gather outside the President's Residence in Jerusalem, January 21, 2023. (AH/Times of Israel)
    Protesters against the Netanyahu-led government gather outside the President's Residence in Jerusalem, January 21, 2023. (AH/Times of Israel)
  • Israeli protesters attend a rally against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new far-right government in the coastal city of Tel Aviv on January 21, 2023. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
    Israeli protesters attend a rally against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new far-right government in the coastal city of Tel Aviv on January 21, 2023. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

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

Police open all roads after Tel Aviv protests

People march in a protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his his far-right government that his opponents say threaten democracy and freedoms, in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
People march in a protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his his far-right government that his opponents say threaten democracy and freedoms, in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Police say all roads in Tel Aviv that were closed for the major anti-government protests in the coastal city have been reopened.

An estimated 110,000 people gathered in the city for the third week of demonstrations against the government’s judicial plans.

The protests this evening were peaceful, with no reports of violence or clashes with law enforcement.

Author David Grossman at Tel Aviv protest: ‘If so many feel like strangers in their own country, something is wrong’

David Grossman addresses a joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day service at Tel Aviv's Hayarkon Park on April 16, 2018. (Rami Ben-Ari/Combatants for Peace)
David Grossman addresses a joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day service at Tel Aviv's Hayarkon Park on April 16, 2018. (Rami Ben-Ari/Combatants for Peace)

Revered Israeli author David Grossman addresses the crowd at the anti-government protest in Tel Aviv this evening.

“The State of Israel was established so that there would be one place in the world where the Jewish person, the Jewish people, would feel at home. But if so many Israelis feel like strangers in their own country, obviously something is going wrong,” Grossman says.

“Now is the dark hour. Now is the moment to stand up and cry out: This land is in our souls. What happens in it today, will determine who it will be and who we and our children will become,” he says.

“Because if Israel will become different and far from the hope and vision that created it, God forbid, in a certain sense, it will not be,” Grossman warns.

‘Night is descending upon Israel’: Former deputy attorney general addresses crowd at Tel Aviv protest

Dina Zilber, a former deputy attorney general, speaks at the anti-government protest in Tel Aviv tonight.

“Night is descending upon Israel,” she says. “It’s a real alarm… We’re not imagining it.”

“If you’re the government, think very well what caused all of these people to get off of their chairs” and come here tonight, she says to the crowd of over 100,000.

Troops detain two Palestinians suspected of shooting at West Bank military post

A gun and magazines found in a bag thrown from a car by Palestinians suspected of shooting at a military post near Bethlehem, January 21, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
A gun and magazines found in a bag thrown from a car by Palestinians suspected of shooting at a military post near Bethlehem, January 21, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces says Palestinian gunmen fired from a passing vehicle at a military post near the Herodion National Park in the West Bank, not far from Bethlehem.

Troops scanning the area for the attackers spotted a suspicious car, from which suspects were seen hurling a bag, the IDF says.

The military says troops fired into the air to stop the car with two suspects.

A shell casing from a bullet was found in the car, and a handgun and several M16 magazines were found in the bag thrown from the vehicle, the IDF says.

“The pair were arrested and their car was impounded,” the military adds.

Demonstrators in Tel Aviv hold torchlight march

Israeli protesters carry torches during a rally against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new government, in Tel Aviv on January 21, 2023. (Jack Guez/AFP)
Israeli protesters carry torches during a rally against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new government, in Tel Aviv on January 21, 2023. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Protesters in Tel Aviv with torches are holding a march on Derech Menachem Begin, a major thoroughfare connecting Allenby Street — where some 100,000 demonstrators are gathered tonight — and Arlozorov Interchange on the Ayalon Highway.

Israelis protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right government, January 21, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

‘Democracies fall slowly and quietly’: Thousands protest near President’s Residence in Jerusalem

Protesters against the Netanyahu-led government gather outside the President's Residence in Jerusalem, January 21, 2023. (AH/Times of Israel)
Protesters against the Netanyahu-led government gather outside the President's Residence in Jerusalem, January 21, 2023. (AH/Times of Israel)

Thousands of people are gathered on Hanassi Street in Jerusalem, near the President’s Residence for a protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and its intended judicial overhaul.

The protesters, many of whom are carrying Israeli flags, are chanting “The people are determined: This is not Iran,” “We’re setting a red line for [Justice Minister Yariv] Levin,” “We won’t be silent as long as there is inequality,” and simply “Democracy.”

“Governance is not the same as tyranny,” and “Red line: Right and left against the destruction,” some banners read.

A student band performs followed by speakers, including several students, as well as Shaul Meridor, a former senior Treasury official and son of former Likud minister Dan Meridor.

“Democracies fall slowly and quietly,” says Meridor. “We have to fight and battle. This isn’t about Arab or Jew, religious or secular, this is our house that we have to protect.”

Judge Nava Ben-Or, former head of the Jerusalem district court, lists the judicial reforms suggested by the government, enumerating the ways in which they ignore the basic tenets of democracy.

Other speakers vow to “unify the elements” of Israeli society… against the Netanyahu government’s efforts to carry out a constitutional coup,” and promise, “We’ll be here every week… every Saturday night, protecting the state.”

The crowd includes families with young children; many participants are wearing kippot.

A handful of pro-Netanyahu protesters with banners reading “leftist traitors” hold a counter-demonstration, but are kept away from the main protest by police.

The demonstration ends with the national anthem, “Hatikvah.”

At Tel Aviv protest, chair of Bar Association slams government’s judicial plans

Israel Bar Association head Avi Himi speaks during a conference in Tel Aviv, June 29, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Israel Bar Association head Avi Himi speaks during a conference in Tel Aviv, June 29, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Avi Himi, chair of the Israel Bar Association, slams Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s proposals to shake up the judiciary.

“You never got a mandate to change the regime, you never got a mandate to destroy democracy,” Himi says at tonight’s protest in Tel Aviv, in comments directed towards Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

Netanyahu has repeatedly said that his government received a mandate from November’s voters to enact a wideseeping judicial reform platform, which would create parliamentary supremacy at the expense of the judiciary.

“It’s our right to scream, it’s our obligation to scream, such it is in a democracy,” Himi tells protesters on Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Street, encouraging them to keep the fight going.

“We won’t let them, we simply won’t let them,” he says, leading the crowd to erupt into a chant of “we won’t let them.”

Tech CEO says foreign investment in Israeli companies threatened by government’s legal plans

Eynat Guez, co-founder and CEO of workplace management platform Papaya Global. (Courtesy)
Eynat Guez, co-founder and CEO of workplace management platform Papaya Global. (Courtesy)

High-tech CEO and protest leader Eynat Guez says that foreign investment into Israeli companies, a key ingredient to Israel’s high-tech sector’s success, will be threatened if Israel’s democracy crumbles.

Citing $54 billion as the amount of foreign money invested in Israel in the last 3 years, Guez says that the government’s quest to quash court independence and power may threaten continued interest from investors.

“Without democracy, that $54 billion won’t be here and the tens of thousands of workers who joined high tech won’t be here,” Guez tells protesters on Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Street.

“These workers aren’t only the State of Tel Aviv,” but rather women, minorities, and people who live in Israel’s peripheral communities, she adds.

Guez, who leads Papaya and is a key leader of the growing high-tech protest movement, says that investors ask, “What’s going on here, is Israeli democracy really in danger? This is a real alarm.”

“No wealth holder will put money in a state where democracy is crumbling,” she adds. “The start-up nation without democracy can’t exist.”

At Tel Aviv protest, Ya’alon calls Netanyahu’s government a ‘dictatorship of criminals’

Former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon attends a protest against Benjamin Netanyahu's government, at Habima Square in Tel Aviv, January 14, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon attends a protest against Benjamin Netanyahu's government, at Habima Square in Tel Aviv, January 14, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Moshe Ya’alon, former defense minister and protest leader, addresses the estimated 100,000 Israelis gathered on Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Street to call Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government a “dictatorship of criminals.”

“A state in which the PM will appoint all of the judges, there’s a name for it: dictatorship,” he says. “If there’s a country in the world that cannot afford to have the Court destroyed and have democracy turn into dictatorship, it’s Israel.”

Ya’alon calls the current government a “dictatorship of criminals,” citing the examples of National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir encouraging the police to “strike protesters” and the government’s proposal to have control over judicial appointments.

Paraphrasing one of Yitzhak Rabin’s famous speeches, former IDF chief of staff and defense minister Ya’alon states his military ID number and says that this “war” against dictatorship is his most important.

“Legislation that turns Israel into a dictatorship is legislation that is grossly illegal,” he says. “The way we stopped Syria and Egypt from destroying Israel, we will stop Netanyahu from doing the same.”

“We all enlisted because we care about the state and its future,” Yaalon tells the crowd. “Democracy will always defeat dictatorship.”

TV: Knesset law panel chair’s version of judicial overhaul plans set to be discussed Sunday

Constitution Committee Chair MK Simcha Rothman leads a committee debate, January 17, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Constitution Committee Chair MK Simcha Rothman leads a committee debate, January 17, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The head of the Knesset’s Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee is reportedly ready to accelerate his own version of Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s far-reaching judicial overhaul plans in an effort to ensure their swift passage into law.

According to Channel 12 news, the proposals drawn up by MK Simcha Rothman of the far-right Religious Zionism party will be presented to lawmakers for a discussion Sunday, ahead of a vote, not those that Levin has drafted.

Channel 12 says Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition wants a first reading of the bill in the Knesset by February 1.

Opposition lawmakers are set to boycott the session tomorrow, it adds.

The network does not attribute the information to a source.

Police estimate over 100,000 at Tel Aviv anti-government rallies

Israelis protest Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his his far-right government that his opponents say threaten democracy and freedoms, in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Israelis protest Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his his far-right government that his opponents say threaten democracy and freedoms, in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Police officials say some 100,000 people are gathered on Kaplan Street and another 10,000 at Habima Square in Tel Aviv amid tonight’s anti-government protest, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

Last week saw some 80,000 protesters at Habima Square and several thousand more in Jerusalem and Haifa.

The demonstrations mark the third week that opponents of Netanyahu’s government take to the streets, protesting Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s proposals to shake up the judiciary by severely curbing the High Court of Justice’s judicial review powers and cementing political control over the appointment of judges.

Over 1,000 gather in Beersheba for anti-government protest

Over 1,000 demonstrators have gathered outside the Beersheba city hall for a protest against Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

The protest is occurring at the same time as massive demonstrations in Tel Aviv.

Thousands are also gathered near the Horev shopping area in Haifa, and outside the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.

The demonstrations mark the third week that opponents of Netanyahu’s government take to the streets, protesting Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s proposals to shake up the judiciary by severely curbing the High Court of Justice’s judicial review powers and cementing political control over the appointment of judges.

Protesters in Tel Aviv say government’s judicial plans aimed at Netanyahu’s criminal trial

Protester Assaf Abrahamovitz speaks to The Times of Israel from an anti-government protest in Tel Aviv. (Carrie Keller-Lynn/Times of Israel)
Protester Assaf Abrahamovitz speaks to The Times of Israel from an anti-government protest in Tel Aviv. (Carrie Keller-Lynn/Times of Israel)

Several protesters say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pursuing far-reaching judicial reform as a bid to slip his ongoing corruption trial.

“What happens at the end of the day is we have a person who doesn’t care about the state and he’s ready to do my thing to get out of his trial,” says protestor Assaf Abrahamovitz, 44, from Hadar Am. “This will hurt all of us.”

Carrying a sign that says he came to Tel Aviv to protest because Israel has “changed its face.” Abrahamovitz says that although he doesn’t know what the new government’s full plans may be, losing High Court protection scares him.

“Everything they would want to legislate, it’s impossible to stop. Rights for women, Arabs, the LGBT community” will be threatened, he says.

“We don’t know what they want to do, but there will be no one to stop them.”

Police estimate 50,000 at Tel Aviv anti-government rallies

Israeli protesters attend a rally against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new far-right government in the coastal city of Tel Aviv on January 21, 2023. (Jack Guez/AFP)
Israeli protesters attend a rally against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new far-right government in the coastal city of Tel Aviv on January 21, 2023. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Police officials say some 40,000 people are gathered on Kaplan Street and another 10,000 at Habima Square in Tel Aviv amid tonight’s anti-government protest, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

Last week saw some 80,000 protesters at Habima square and several thousand more in Jerusalem and Haifa.

Deri expected to show up at Sunday cabinet meeting despite High Court ruling — report

Shas leader Aryeh Deri, the Minister of Interior and Health, with supporters outside his home in Jerusalem on January 18, 2023, hours after the High Court said he cannot hold ministerial office. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Shas leader Aryeh Deri, the Minister of Interior and Health, with supporters outside his home in Jerusalem on January 18, 2023, hours after the High Court said he cannot hold ministerial office. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Shas leader Aryeh Deri is expected to show up at tomorrow’s cabinet meeting, despite the High Court of Justice ruling that he cannot serve as a minister in Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

After Wednesday’s bombshell ruling, if Deri doesn’t resign from his twin cabinet roles as interior minister and health minister, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is legally required to fire him.

The High Court ruled that Deri’s dual appointments were “unreasonable in the extreme” in light of his recent and past financial crimes, and that Deri had misled a magistrate’s court into thinking he would retire from political life in order to evade a determination that his recent tax fraud conviction carried “moral turpitude.”

Deri was also convicted and incarcerated for taking bribes during a previous stint as interior minister in the 1990s.

Channel 12 news reports that Netanyahu’s coalition is looking to draft a law that would stipulate that tax offenses cannot carry the designation of “moral turpitude.”

Lapid at Tel Aviv protest: ‘We will not give up until we win’

Outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid, center, addresses Yesh Atid supporters at the KKL Bridge in Tel Aviv, December 9, 2022. (Elad Gutman/Yesh Atid)
Outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid, center, addresses Yesh Atid supporters at the KKL Bridge in Tel Aviv, December 9, 2022. (Elad Gutman/Yesh Atid)

Opposition leader and former prime minister Yair Lapid speaks at the anti-government protest in Tel Aviv.

“What you see here today is a demonstration in support of the country. This is a demonstration for the country. People who love the country have come here today to defend its democracy, to defend its courts, to defend the idea of coexistence and of common good,” Lapid says in brief remarks.

“There people here who love Israel, who came to demonstrate for a democratic Jewish state according to the values ​​of the Declaration of Independence,” he says.

“We will not give up until we win.”

Tens of thousands are gathering on Kaplan Street in the coastal city.

The demonstrations mark the third week that opponents of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government take to the streets, protesting Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s proposals to shake up the judiciary by severely curbing the High Court of Justice’s judicial review powers and cementing political control over the appointment of judges.

Protesters in Tel Aviv decry ‘fascist’ government

An Israeli protestor attends a rally against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new hard-right government in the coastal city of Tel Aviv on January 21, 2023. (Jack Guez/AFP)
An Israeli protestor attends a rally against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new hard-right government in the coastal city of Tel Aviv on January 21, 2023. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Protesters say they came out this evening to express disapproval against what several call a “fascist” government that threatens civil liberties.

“It’s a fascist government and a frightening time, after 50 years living here, I don’t know what’s going to happen,” says Robert Barack, who moved to Israel in his late teens from the United States.

“I’m affected, my children and grandchildren are affected. I don’t want my granddaughter to go to an army run by Smotrich,” Barak says, adding that “I’d rather leave the country.”

Barack waves a rainbow flag emblazoned with the Star of David, and is marching alongside protesters from the gay community.

“The Zionist dream includes a state with equality… I have a gay son, he’s in the States now, getting married. He can’t do that here, he’ll probably stay there,” he says, adding that “ministers in this government want to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.”

“I want this government to stop trying to destroy the legal system. I want a government that teaches tolerance, this government doesn’t.”

Anti-occupation demonstrators join protest in Tel Aviv against government legal plans

Ziva Weiler speaks to The Times of Israel from an anti-government protest in Tel Aviv. (Carrie Keller-Lynn/Times of Israel)
Ziva Weiler speaks to The Times of Israel from an anti-government protest in Tel Aviv. (Carrie Keller-Lynn/Times of Israel)

Anti-occupation protesters came out in numbers on Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Street, despite criticism that connecting the evening’s protests against the current government’s policies to the occupation may muddle the message, amid the protesters’ fight to prevent the government’s far-reaching judicial reform plans.

“I think that there is no deluxe democracy. Either we have democracy or we don’t have it,” explains Jewish anti-occupation protestor Ziva Weiler, 67, who arrived from Rehovot.

Weiler dismisses concerns that highlighting the occupation in the protest can dissuade some centrist and right-wing Israelis’ participation, despite otherwise alignment with the protest’s message.

Ya’alon calls to reject governments ‘clearly illegal’ judicial overhaul plans

Former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon attends a protest against Benjamin Netanyahu's government, at Habima Square in Tel Aviv, January 14, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon attends a protest against Benjamin Netanyahu's government, at Habima Square in Tel Aviv, January 14, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon says Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s plans to shake up the judiciary by severely curbing the High Court of Justice’s judicial review powers and cementing political control over the appointment of judges, must be rejected.

Speaking to Channel 12 news from tonight’s anti-government protest in Tel Aviv. Ya’alon says “Levin’s plan is clearly illegal and one must refuse to obey it.”

WATCH: Thousands gather in Tel Aviv to protest Netanyahu’s government

Channel 12 news is streaming the anti-government protests in Tel Aviv. Thousands are seen gathering on Kaplan Street in the coastal city.

Police commissioner receives briefing from Tel Aviv district commander amid protests

Israel Police commissioner Kobi Shabtai is receiving a briefing from Deputy Commissioner Ami Eshed, the chief of the Tel Aviv precinct amid tonight’s anti-government protests in the city.

Police are anticipating tens of thousands of people. Last week’s protest saw some 80,000 participants.

Police close roads amid anti-government protest held in Haifa

Police secure a protest at the Horev center in Haifa, January 21, 2023. (Israel Police)
Police secure a protest at the Horev center in Haifa, January 21, 2023. (Israel Police)

Police say officers have closed off roads near the Horev shopping area in Haifa amid a protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

“Israel Police is prepared with dozens of police officers to maintain public order at the protest that is currently taking place at Horev center in Haifa,” a spokesperson says.

Protest leader says Tel Aviv rallies split into two to ‘reduce congestion’

Eliad Shraga, lawyer and founder of the Movement for the Quality of Government speaks at a protest against the emerging government organized in Tel Aviv on December 17, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Eliad Shraga, lawyer and founder of the Movement for the Quality of Government speaks at a protest against the emerging government organized in Tel Aviv on December 17, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

In anticipation of parallel protests scheduled in Tel Aviv tonight against what protesters call anti-democratic moves by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government, the leader of one of the protest organizers says that the events broke into two in order to “reduce congestion.”

Eliad Shraga, who leads the good governance organization Movement for Quality Government, tells The Times of Israel that “there is crazy pressure, we have to reduce congestion,” as an explanation for creating a second protest in Tel Aviv’s HaBima Square, in addition to a multi-group-led protest on the city’s Kaplan Street.

Last week, an estimated 80,000 protesters took to Tel Aviv’s streets to express their disapproval of Netanyahu’s government’s direction, and in particular, a blistering package of judicial reforms meant to increase political power over the judiciary.

Tens of thousands of protesters are expected to descend upon Tel Aviv’s streets this evening.

Anti-government rallies also expected in Jerusalem, Haifa, Beersheba

Protesters against the planned judicial overhaul outside the President's Residence in Jerusalem, on January 14, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Protesters against the planned judicial overhaul outside the President's Residence in Jerusalem, on January 14, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Demonstrations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government are also expected to take place tonight in Jerusalem, at the President’s Residence; in Haifa, at the Horev shopping center; Beer Sheva, near the municipality; as well as in Herzliya and Modi’in.

The demonstrations will mark the third week that opponents of Netanyahu’s government will take to the streets, protesting Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s proposals to shake up the judiciary by severely curbing the High Court of Justice’s judicial review powers and cementing political control over the appointment of judges.

Police begin to close roads in Tel Aviv ahead of major anti-government rallies

Police block off the entrance to the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv, during an anti-government protest, on January 14, 2023. (Naomi Lanzkron/Times of Israel)
Police block off the entrance to the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv, during an anti-government protest, on January 14, 2023. (Naomi Lanzkron/Times of Israel)

Police officers are closing numerous roads in Tel Aviv ahead of two anti-government protests in the coastal city, one on Kaplan Street and the other at Habima Square.

The ramps to Hashalom Interchange on the Ayalon Highway from both directions will also be closed to traffic.

Police say several more roads in Tel Aviv will close at 6:45 p.m. for a march set to be held by the demonstrators.

The road closures will be marked on the Waze navigation app, police say.

Organizers estimate the rallies will draw around 100,000 people. Last week’s protest saw some 80,000 at Habima Square.

The demonstrations will mark the third week that opponents of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government will take to the streets, protesting Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s proposals to shake up the judiciary by severely curbing the High Court of Justice’s judicial review powers and cementing political control over the appointment of judges.

Azrieli reverses course after refusing anti-government ad on Tel Aviv mall building

An aerial view of the Azrieli compound area. (Oren Kfir via iStock by Getty Images)
An aerial view of the Azrieli compound area. (Oren Kfir via iStock by Getty Images)

Azrieli Group briefly refuses to allow the Haaretz daily to publish an anti-government message on a digital billboard on its mall in central Tel Aviv, the newspaper reports.

“Haaretz” sought to publish an ad on the Azrieli mall with the slogan “Democracy does not end with elections,” but was denied.

Amid backlash and threats of boycotting over the move, Azrieli reverses course.

In a statement, the group says it “is careful to operate in the business sector without taking sides on political issues.”

However, it said that with “public discourse at a boiling point and with various groups wishing to make their voices heard on a wide range of issues, we’ve decided to cancel this policy… out of a belief in true democracy that allows the range of political positions to be heard.”

Later, an ad on the face of the Azrieli Mall building declared: “Supporting democracy — Azrieli Group.”

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