The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they happened.
‘Where were you in Huwara?’: Anti-gov’t protesters clash with cops at evening demonstrations
Thousands of Israelis have gathered for evening protests across the country, capping a day of near-around-the-clock demonstrations against the government’s judicial overhaul plan.
The two main evening protests are held in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
In Tel Aviv, where hundreds surrounded a hair salon where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, was being tended to inside, the protesters proceeded to block several main roads.
In the Jerusalem neighborhood of Rehavia, hundreds of protesters marching toward the Prime Minister’s Residence were blocked by police as they sought to block the road. The showdown lead to minor scuffles with the cops.
Dozens are heard shouting, “Where were you in Huwara,” at officers, criticizing their failure to prevent the deadly settler rampage in the Palestinian town earlier this week while coming down much harder on anti-government protesters.
Hundreds of Israelis are also protesting in several northern towns as well. In Zichron Ya’akov, police used a water cannon to disperse protesters, and said that officers arrested eight suspects who refused to clear the streets.
US lambastes ‘repugnant’ call by Smotrich to ‘wipe out’ Palestinian town, urges PM to speak out as well
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s call to “wipe out” the Palestinian town of Huwara were “irresponsible, repugnant and disgusting.”
“Just as we condemn Palestinian incitement to violence, we condemn these provocative remarks that also amounts to incitement to violence,” he says after being asked about the senior minister’s comments during a press briefing.
“We call on Prime Minister Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials to publicly and clearly reject and disavow these comments,” Price adds.
The remark by Smotrich — who is the finance minister and also a minister in the Defense Ministry in charge of civilian affairs in the West Bank — came days after a terrorist shot dead two Israeli brothers who were driving through Huwara. which was followed by many settlers rampaging through the Nablus-area town in what led to the death of one Palestinian, some 300 injured — four of whom seriously — and dozens of vehicles and buildings torched.
The Religious Zionism party leader, who was taking part in a financial conference hosted by The Marker business daily, was asked why he had on Sunday evening “liked” a tweet by Samaria Regional Council deputy mayor Davidi Ben Zion that called “to wipe out the village of Huwara today.”
“Because I think the village of Huwara needs to be wiped out. I think the State of Israel should do it,” Smotrich replied.
He added “God forbid,” that the job should not be done by private citizens. He condemned the rampage, saying, “We shouldn’t be dragged into anarchy in which civilians take the law into their own hands.”
Lapid slams Netanyahu for comparing Tel Aviv protests to Huwara rioters
Opposition leader Yair Laid slams Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for comparing the thousands of people who protested in Tel Avi to the settlers who raged through the Palestinian town of Huwara.
“Huwara was a pogrom carried out by terrorists. How does Netanyahu equate them with people who served in Sayeret Matakal, Apache pilots, reservists, doctors, students, and people who took to the streets today,” Lapid says.
“These are the best people in Israel, that was a terrible statement, fomenting a feud by a weak and dangerous man,” he says.
Police rescue Sara Netanyahu as protesters surround Tel Aviv hair salon
Police are called to extract Sara Netanyahu from a Tel Aviv hair salon after it was surrounded by anti-government protesters.
Demonstrators surround the salon chanting slogans against the government.
“The country is burning and Sara is getting a haircut,” they chant.
מטורף עכשיו מרגע לרגע ההפגנה מול שרה נתניהו שנתפסה במספרה בכיכר המדינה ספונטנית !!!! pic.twitter.com/851npfdst2
— לירי בורק שביט (@lirishavit) March 1, 2023
The incident comes as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a statement to the nation, comparing protesters in Tel Aviv to settlers who rampaged through a Palestinian town earlier in the week.
Palestinian shot during raid to arrest Jericho terrorists dies
A Palestinian man who was shot and detained by Israeli troops during a raid in a refugee camp near Jericho earlier today has died.
The Israel Defense Forces says the suspect was shot as he attempted to flee a hideout apartment in the Aqbat Jabr refugee camp, where two alleged terrorists behind a recent deadly shooting attack were holed up.
He was taken by the army to a hospital in Israel, but later succumbed to his wounds.
The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry says it is notified of the man’s death, naming him as 22-year-old Mahmoud Hamdan.
الشاب محمود جمال حسن حمدان الذي ارتقى متأثراً بجروحٍ حرجة أصيب بها برصاص الاحتلال، خلال اقتحام مخيم عقبة جبر في #أريحا، ظهر اليوم. pic.twitter.com/dCPu0ZM4Xx
— وكالة شهاب للأنباء (@ShehabAgency) March 1, 2023
In statement to nation, Netanyahu compares Tel Aviv protests to settler rampage
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a statement to the nation on a day when police used force to quell protests in Tel Aviv, in which he compares the demonstrators to settlers who rampaged through a Palestinian West Bank town on Sunday night after two Israelis were shot dead there in a terror attack. The settlers burned dozens of homes and vehicles in riots that also saw the death of a Palestinian.
“We won’t accept violence in Huwara and we won’t accept violence in Tel Aviv,” Netanyahu says.
The premier says that, in both situations, demonstrators crossed red lines, which he defined as violence and anarchy, including striking police officers, blocking roads, and threats to politicians.
The statement does not include an anticipated call for compromise and talks, and instead accuses the protesters of fomenting “anarchy.”
“Freedom to protest is not a license to drive the country to anarchy,” Netanyahu says.
Netanyahu attempts to compare the current protests against the judicial overhaul to the protests against the 2005 disengagement plan, which saw Israel withdraw from the Gaza Strip and uproot thousands of settlers.
Netanyahu, who was part of the government that voted for disengagement, portrays himself as one of the leaders of the opposition and says, falsely, that those protests were all peaceful.
“They went out and made a strong and determined protest,” Netanyahu says of anti-disengagement activists. “But I’ll say one thing: that struggle didn’t cross red lines.”
Netanyahu glosses over the fact that his own finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, was arrested and held by the Shin Bet for three weeks in 2005, on suspicion of plotting to blow up cars on a busy Tel Aviv highway.
Netanyahu slams the opposition and ignores the fact that National Unity party Benny Gantz called today for immediate dialogue, warning that civil war is imminent.
Netanyahu to make statement to nation as bipartisan MKs call for judicial compromise
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to make a statement to the nation at 8.10 p.m, his office announces.
The statement comes amid mounting opposition to his government’s plans for a wide-ranging judicial overhaul that critics say will undermine democracy.
It also comes after opposition MK Benny Gantz issues a plea for dialogue, warning that Israel is quickly descending into a civil war.
Just ahead of the announcement, four lawmakers from Gantz’s National Unity party and Netanyahu’s Likud issue a joint statement calling on all parties to reach a broad agreement.
“The State of Israel is currently facing many complex challenges in the fields of society, the economy and its international status and is facing serious attacks and security challenges more serious than ever before,” says the statement signed by Likud’s Danny Dannon and Yuli Edelstein along with National Unity’s Gadi Eisenkot and Chili Tropper.
“Above all of these hovers, like a dark shadow, the difficult controversy that tears and divides the public in Israel regarding the various proposals concerning the Israeli justice system. We have no doubt that although the disputes are difficult, we must act in every way to reach broad agreements,” the statement says.
They urge all members of the Knesset to support a compromise proposal put forward by President Isaac Herzog.
Kiss reveal last dates of their farewell tour, ending in NYC
Rockers Kiss have announced the final shows of their last tour. The band plans to hang up their platform boots after two back-to-back shows at Madison Square Garden in New York at the end of 2023.
The last leg of the band’s 17-date North American tour kicks off in October in Texas and hits California, Washington, Canada, Tennessee, Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, and then concludes in their hometown’s famous venue on December 1 and December 2.
“Kiss was born in New York City. On 23rd Street. Half a century ago. It will be a privilege and honor to finish touring at Madison Square Garden, 10 blocks and 50 years from where we first started,” said the band in a statement.
The band is currently made up of original members Paul Stanley and US-Israeli Gene Simmons as well as Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer. Their best-known songs include “Rock and Roll All Nite,” “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” and “Detroit Rock City.”
Tickets will be available to the public on March 10 at livenation.com.
IDF chief regrets forces could not stop settlers rampaging in West Bank village
Speaking at a Navy officers’ graduation ceremony, IDF chief Herzi Halevi says he regrets that the army was unable to prevent extremist settlers from rioting in the West Bank town of Huwara earlier this week.
“The IDF prevents many terror attacks every week. Unfortunately, we were unable to prevent the last ones,” Halevi says at the Haifa naval base, referring to two deadly shooting attacks in the West Bank.
“We also had to prevent what developed following the attack in Huwara,” he says.
“Riots, violence against IDF soldiers, and damage to residents and property as an act of revenge are something that must be condemned,” Halevi says.
“These phenomena are fundamentally unacceptable, distracting IDF forces from fighting terror, and almost resulted in more casualties this week in a confrontation between soldiers and a settler youth who attacked them,” he says.
“This is the time to make clear statements, a time to draw boundaries for those who think that an uncontrolled internal struggle will improve our security,” Halevi continues.
“Alongside the great pain, we will act with determination to apprehend the murderers and with uncompromising responsibility in order to keep us a united country in the face of many challenges,” he adds.
Soldier detained for threatening anti-government protesters with weapon
An Israeli soldier is detained by police officers in southern Israel, after he allegedly pulled a gun and threatened a group of demonstrators protesting the government’s judicial overhaul plans.
A police spokesman says that during the protest at the Beit Kama junction, a soldier got out of an army truck and allegedly threatened protesters.
The protesters say the soldier accelerated toward them and waved his gun at them in a threatening manner.
Officers at the scene detained the soldier and notified the IDF.
The soldier is being handed over to Military Police for further questioning.
אירוע חריג בהפגנות בדרום: חייל התעמת עם מפגינים והניף לעברם את נשקו. שוטרי תחנת רהט, שאבטחו את המחאה בבית קמה, עיכבו אותו והוא הועבר לחקירת מצ"ח. אחד המוחים במקום: הוא האיץ באמצע הכיכר, כמעט עלה על הניידת@Itsik_zuarets pic.twitter.com/rKLOUeMYOu
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) March 1, 2023
Herzog: I am fearful for the fate of this nation, but hope a solution can be found
President Isaac Herzog says he is fearful for the fate of the country after a day in which police used force to protest against the government’s judicial overhaul plans, but still believes the crisis could be an opportunity.
“The State of Israel, Israeli society, all of us — are in a difficult hour of an internal, deep, and serious crisis that threatens us all,” Herzog says speaking at the graduation of Navy cadets in Haifa.
“I hear your voice, my brothers and sisters, the voices of patriotic Israeli citizens who are fearful for Israeli democracy. I see the protests, the anxiety and the fear that comes from the depths of your hearts — a fear that I also expressed regarding the legislation as it is being presented now. I feel very well the depth of pain, and the depth of concern for the fate of the country,” Herzog says.
However, Herzog says he still believes that this moment can be transformed into a positive one and that agreements can be reached to ensure an equitable constitution for the country.
“We may plunge into a terrible abyss, but on the other hand, we can reach a solution with broad agreement. I will not let our State of Israel — of all of us — reach the point of no return, I will not let this historical disaster happen,” he says.
“I believe with all my heart that it is possible to turn this moment of crisis into a defining constitutional moment. A moment in which our democracy, the principles of the Declaration of Independence, the supremacy of the law, human rights, and the checks and balances between the authorities will be preserved for generations,” he says.
Police chief: Several cops wounded, we will not tolerate violence against the force
Police chief Kobi Shabtai says several police officers were injured in clashes with demonstrators, which he called “difficult and sad.”
Speaking after a situation assessment with senior officers following the clashes in Tel Aviv, where police used stun grenades, water cannons and mounted officers, Shabtai says police were attacked.
“We have police officers who were injured today as a result of the violence of demonstrators and we will punish those responsible for this. Violence against police officers, such as throwing stones and objects at police officers is, for me, crossing a line, which we will not allow.”
Shabtai says the police are committed to allowing protests and free speech so long as demonstrators do not disturb the peace, or damage property or symbols of government.
Police block protesters from reaching Netanyahu’s Jerusalem home
Police have closed off access to protesters who intended to rally outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s home on Azza Street in the capital.
Most protesters appear to be redirecting to a protest in Paris Square near the official Prime Minister’s Residence, which is empty due to renovations.
Other protesters gather outside the nearby President’s Residence, which has been the site of weekly rallies against the government’s plan to curb the judiciary.
Government says willing to talk about judicial reform, but without preconditions
Justice Minister Yariv Levin and Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chairman MK Simcha Rothman say they are willing to answer Benny Gantz’s call for talks, but without preconditions.
Gantz, the leader of the opposition National Unity party, called for shutting the Knesset where the government is pushing ahead with its judicial overhaul, warning the country was spiraling toward civil war.
In a joint statement, Levin and Rothman say: “Gantz — let’s set a place and time and sit and talk. Without preconditions.”
Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana also rejects the call to halt the legislation, saying the Knesset is the people’s house and needs to stay open.
Opposition parties have said that if the government wants to show it is serious about talks, it should halt the progress of the legislation. Other opposition leaders have refused to negotiate at all.
Protests move to Jerusalem, converging on Netanyahu home
Following a day of protests in Tel Aviv and other cities, the protests move to Jerusalem, where demonstrators rally outside the Knesset, chanting against the government and waving Israeli flags.
Demonstrators then start to gather in the evening in front of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s private residence in central Jerusalem.
Several thousand people are marching, led by a student group.
מבקרים את החמוד בעזה 4 ירושלים pic.twitter.com/gTjDB867Ft
— Shachar Shullami (@sha_shull) March 1, 2023
“What happened this morning in Tel Aviv does not scare us, but only illustrates to us what kind of country we will live in if the coup goes through,” the student protest say in a statement, referring to police riot dispersal means and arrests.
“We will continue to fight against it with all our might. We call on all young people to join,” they say.
אח ירושלים pic.twitter.com/b9heMvrauF
— שקד גרין Shaked Green (@shaked_green) March 1, 2023
Friedman confirms opposition to judicial overhaul, but says criticism respectful
Former US president Donald Trump’s ambassador to Israel David Friedman confirms an Axios report revealing his opposition to the judicial overhaul being advanced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, but says his concerns were made “respectfully” and were part of an “attempt to find common ground.”
“The tone of the conversation was not about slamming or being critical or pointing fingers, rather recognizing that this is a complicated issue,” he tells The Times of Israel.
Earlier today, Axios reported that during a private session of a conference organized by a pair of conservative think tanks, Friedman pushed back on one of the overhaul’s key architect’s claims that the proposals would make Israel more like the US.
“You compare this to the US, but it doesn’t work like that in our system,” Axios quoted him as having told Religious Zionism MK Simcha Rothman, drawing applause from many in the room.
Friedman also singled out the so-called “override clause” that would let the government re-legislate laws struck down by the courts. He added that in the US, the courts exist to protect minority rights and that the override clause will prevent the Israeli courts from doing the same.
Speaking with The Times of Israel, Friedman adds that protecting “minority rights are an important aspect of the US government and should be for any government.”
Smotrich says media distorting his words after he called to ‘wipe out’ village
Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich accuses the media of distorting his words after he called to “wipe out” a Palestinian village.
The remark by Smotrich — who is the finance minister and also a minister in the Defense Ministry in charge of civilian affairs in the West Bank — came days after a terrorist from Huwara shot dead two Israeli brothers, which was followed by extremist settlers rampaging through the Nablus-area town and setting homes and cars on fire, resulting in one Palestinian shot dead and several badly hurt.
Asked at a conference why he had on Sunday evening “liked” a tweet by Samaria Regional Council deputy mayor Davidi Ben Zion that called “to wipe out the village of Huwara today,” Smotrich replied: “Because I think the village of Huwara needs to be wiped out. I think the State of Israel should do it.”
He added that “God forbid,” the job shouldn’t be done by private citizens.
Smotrich later issues a statement saying that “once again the media takes my quote and tries to create a distorted interpretation of it.”
“If they had played my words in full, you would have heard that I spoke about how Huwara is a hostile village that has become a terrorist outpost from where terrorist acts of throwing stones and shooting against Jews are launched every day. But it is forbidden in any way to take the law into one’s own hands.”
“I said that I support a disproportionate response by the IDF and the security forces to every act of terrorism. For every stone, the closing of the shops at the site; for every firebomb, arrests and deportation of the families of the terrorists; for every nest of terror, closure and exacting a painful price until the terrorists and their supporters realize that… terrorism does not pay.”
Fitch reaffirms A+ rating, warns judicial overhaul could have negative impact
Fitch Ratings reaffirms Israel’s A+ rating with a stable outlook today, citing the country’s “diversified, resilient” economic performance, while warning that the government’s planned judicial changes could have a “negative impact” on the country’s credit rating.
“While the exact content of the reform is still subject to negotiations in parliament, Fitch believes the reform could have a negative impact on Israel’s credit profile by weakening governance indicator or if the weakening of institutional checks leads to worse policy outcomes or sustained negative investor sentiment,” Fitch says in a statement.
The rating agency expects Israel’s economy to grow at a rate of 2.9% in 2023 after expanding 6.4% in 2022, despite global challenges and monetary policy tightening that will curtail private consumption and investment.
Fitch also raises concerns about recent comments by Israeli lawmakers threatening to challenge the independence of the central bank and the pass-through of interest rates to mortgages.
“So far, these efforts have been resisted by the prime minister and the minister of finance,” Fitch says. “While not our base case, a weakening of central bank independence would reduce the credibility of Israel’s policy-making, currently a rating strength.”
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said that Fitch’s decision shows that the government is “taking all the right steps to move the State of Israel forward.”
“Last week, the government approved an excellent, responsible, restrained and growth- and infrastructure-oriented budget, and despite the rising global inflation, we manage to fortify the State of Israel as an island of stability, a growing economy and an excellent place for investment,” Smotrich says in a statement.
Gantz calls on Netanyahu to enter talks: We are rushing toward a civil war
National Unity party leader Benny Gantz says he has called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and urged him to immediately halt legislation on the judicial overhaul and meet for talks, warning the country was spiraling toward civil war.
“Close the Knesset now and do not open it until we calm things down. Stop everything and we will drive from here to the President’s Residence in Jerusalem,” he tells the Knesset, referring to President Isaac Herzog’s call to host negotiations on the reform.
Gantz accuses government ministers of fanning the flames.
“Civil war is on our doorstep and the coalition is running toward it with eyes closed,” Gantz says.
“Rothman, Ben Gvir and Levin are running around with torches trying to set the country on fire at any price and Netanyahu is fueling this for his private needs,” Gantz says.
Netanyahu responds, saying his door is always open for talks.
Trump’s ambassador to Israel said to rap Rothman for judicial overhaul
David Friedman, who was former US president Donald Trump’s ambassador to Israel and who is considered very close with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has expressed concern at the government’s judicial overhaul plan, the Axios news site reports.
During a national security conference last week hosted by US conservative groups, Friedman, who had previously been Trump’s lawyer, spoke with MK Simcha Rothman, who is a key architect of the reforms.
According to Axios, citing participants in the meeting, Friedman hit back at claims by Rothman that giving the government control over the appointment of judges would make Israel more like the US.
Friedman said the situation in the US was very different and told Rothman that while he was in favor of reform, the government’s plan “was going too far for me and for many Americans” because it will harm the court’s ability to protect minority rights.
Friedman reportedly singled out the so-called “override clause” that would let the government re-legislate laws struck down by the courts.
According to Axios, Friedman said that in the US, the courts exist to protect minority rights and the override clause will prevent the Israeli courts from doing the same.
“You compare this to the US, but it doesn’t work like that in our system,” he told Rothman to applause from the room.
Lapid: Smotrich’s call to ‘wipe out’ Palestinian village is incitement to war crimes
Opposition leader Yair Lapid says Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s call to “wipe out” the Palestinian village of Huwara is “incitement to war crimes.”
“Jews don’t carry out pogroms and Jews don’t wipe out villages. The government has gone off the rails,” Lapid says.
At a conference, Smotrich says he supports “wiping out” Huwara, the scene of a violent settler rampage after a terror attack there. But, he specifies, only the government should do it, not private individuals.
Police detain two more suspects in deadly Huwara rampage
Police say another two suspects in the rioting in Huwara earlier this week have been detained.
The suspects, one of whom is a minor, are suspected of involvement in the rioting that saw Palestinian homes and cars set on fire in the West Bank town on Sunday night following a deadly terror attack there.
This morning police arrested six suspects over the incidents in Huwara. One was later released without conditions.
Police arrest 39 demonstrators in Tel Aviv; Ben Gvir: Cops have my full support
Police say they have arrested 39 protesters during demonstrations against the government in Tel Aviv.
Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who urged police to use force against “anarchists,” says the force has his full backing.
Police used stun grenades, water cannons and officers mounted on horses against demonstrators, wounding at least 11.
Death penalty for Palestinian terrorists passes preliminary Knesset vote
A government-backed bill to impose the death penalty on terrorists who kill Israelis is approved 55 to 9 in a preliminary reading in the Knesset on Wednesday afternoon.
The bill, which is also supported by the Yisrael Beytenu opposition party, states that someone who kills an Israeli citizen due to “racist motivations” or “hostility towards a [particular] public and in order to harm the State of Israel and the revival of the Jewish people” should be given the death penalty.
The law would not apply to an Israeli who killed a Palestinian.
Far-right MK Limor Son Har Melech of the Otzma Yehudit party, who sponsored the bill, says that even when Palestinian terrorists are tried and convicted, they enjoy “pleasant” prison conditions, receive stipends from the Palestinian Authority, and are often released in prisoner exchanges.
“For years, an absurd situation has prevailed in the State of Israel, in which despicable terrorists who murdered Jews are imprisoned in an Israeli prison for a few years, are released in a terrorist release deal or a plea bargain, and return to walking among us as any other person,” says Son Har Melech during the debate in the Knesset plenum on the bill.
The ultranationalist MK, whose first husband was killed in a terror attack in 2003, says imposing the death penalty on terrorists is “the ethical, just, and necessary” thing to do.
Ta’al MK Ahmad Tibi says his party is ideologically opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances, and noted that Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef recently came out in opposition to the death penalty, as did previous chief rabbis.
Opposition parties leave Knesset to join Tel Aviv protests
Opposition lawmakers leave the Knesset where the government is pushing through legislation as part of its contentions judicial overhaul and go join protests in Tel Aviv.
Labor MKs, led by Merav Michaeli, are the first to head to Tel Aviv, joining protesters and encouraging them.
They are followed by opposition leader Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid party.
“We left the Knesset and came here today because if there is a struggle between the government and the people of Israel, we are on the side of the people of Israel,” Lapid says.
Lapid calls on police to ignore the orders given by far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir to use force to clear away “anarchists.”
“The demonstrators here behind us are Israeli patriots and people who love the State of Israel, who defend the State of Israel,” Lapid says.
“This is a fight for the nature of Israeli democracy. We will continue to fight until we win,” he says.
Hospital treats 11 wounded from Tel Aviv protests, including man who lost an ear
The Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv says it has treated 11 people wounded in clashes with police during anti-government demonstrations in Tel Aviv.
The hospital says one man was taken for surgery, while two others are hospitalized.
Hebrew media reports say the man in surgery lost an ear when a stun grenade exploded next to him.
רימון הלם של המשטרה פגע במפגין בצומת קפלן pic.twitter.com/txVGwy54ZI
— Anna Pines || אנה פינס (@AnnaPines_) March 1, 2023
Video shows the man falling to the ground clutching his head as blood pools on the ground.
Over 1,000 at funeral for Elan Ganeles: ‘The brightest boy in the world’
Israeli-American Elan Ganeles, killed in a terror attack near the Dead Sea on Monday, is laid to rest in a Ra’anana cemetery.
Ganeles’s family, who live in West Hartford, Connecticut, flew to Israel for the funeral. More than 1,000 people, many of them strangers, attend the funeral.
Eulogizing her son, Ganeles’s mother, Caroline, says “he was the brightest boy in the world… he had never-ending inquisitiveness.”
“While in Israel he fell in love with the land and the people. This is where he wanted to be,” Elan’s father Andrew says.
“He would serve in the IDF, but not as a volunteer for 18 months, but as a citizen. He was going to make aliyah…” Tears prevent him from finishing his sentence.
“We feel as if a part of our being has been taken from us. He was so loved, and he will be missed so much,” his parents conclude.
Netanyahu, Lapid accuse each other of sowing anarchy
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Yair Lapid trade accusations as police use force against protesters in Tel Aviv.
“It is forbidden to hit police,” Netanyahu says to reporters, “and it is forbidden to disrupt life in the country, to block roads.”
He says Lapid is refusing to discuss the judicial overhaul and instead is trying to foster “anarchy… He wants to bring about a crisis of governance, I’d say, a constitutional crisis,” Netanyahu says, “and thus to get to new elections… It’s time to end the anarchy.”
“Netanyahu, the only anarchy here is created by the government, which you have lost control over,” Lapid responds on Twitter.
“Bibi, the one who gave Ben Gvir explosives to play with knew it would end in an explosion,” he says.
Bill to protect Netanyahu from forced leave of absence passes preliminary reading
A bill to prevent the attorney general or High Court of Justice from forcibly recusing the prime minister is approved 62 to 20 in its preliminary reading in the Knesset.
The preliminary approval of the bill comes following a decision by the High Court last month to hear a petition demanding Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara recuse Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu owing to his ostensible conflict of interests in presiding over far-reaching legal and judicial reforms while he is himself on trial for corruption.
“The voters of the national camp headed by Benjamin Netanyahu voted for him as the one to determine policy,” says Likud MK Ofir Katz in the Knesset plenum during the debate on the bill.
“They voted for his experience and his leadership as prime minister of Israel… The people and the representatives of the people are the ones who appoint the prime minister, and only they can change their choice,” continues Katz.
The bill stipulates only two ways for a prime minister to be removed from office: the prime minister informs the Knesset that they are recusing themselves, or the government recuses the prime minister in a majority vote of three-quarters of cabinet ministers, and that decision is upheld by a majority of 90 members of the Knesset.
The legislation adds that no court shall be empowered to hear a petition demanding the recusal of the prime minister, or make such a ruling.
Earlier this week, Baharav-Miara said she opposes the bill, saying it would sharply reduce the circumstances under which the recusal of a prime minister could be ordered, and warned that the proposal would create a legal “black hole.”
The Knesset House Committee will now decide which committee will prepare the bill for its first reading.
Amid protests, Netanyahu cancels participation in Navy event
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has canceled his planned participation in a Navy officers’ course graduation later this evening.
A schedule from the Prime Minister’s Office had said Netanyahu was due to speak at the ceremony in Haifa at 5 p.m.
Netanyahu is no longer listed on the list of speakers.
The cancellation is thought to be related to the ongoing protests today against the government’s judicial overhaul plans.
Protesters: No choice but to demonstrate, government trying to destroy Israel
Protesters in Tel Aviv say they feel they have no choice but to come out and demonstrate.
“I didn’t want to come today, I wanted to continue with my life, but I felt that there’s no choice, it’s gotten to that point… There’s a group that’s trying to destroy Israel,” Omer Sagi, 40, an agri-tech worker from Ramat Gan, tells The Times of Israel.
“I’m having conversations with my friends about whether to leave the country. I don’t want to live in a place without a Supreme Court or civil rights.”
Others agree and say they will not be deterred by a stronger response from police.
@israelpolice fire stun guns at protesters on Tel Aviv’s Yigal Alon Street
the vibration rips through your chest
Protesters attack police as well pic.twitter.com/V32cvX7ktO
— Carrie Keller-Lynn (@cjkeller8) March 1, 2023
“It’s really tense, you can see that people are really desperate and they don’t want to fight against the cops but are against what’s happening in the country,” says Sharon Aronoff, 32, who immigrated to Israel from Germany as a teen.
“They’re really scared because of the justice system and dictatorship, and what happened in Huwara two days ago is just an example of what people are ready to do,” she says.
Not all at the protest share the same view.
“I’m against the protest. I support Yariv Levin’s judicial reform. I think he’s doing the right thing,” says Eli Almog, 28, from Petah Tikvah.
“I came to see it today with my own eyes and see if this is a group of anarchists or people who are really hurting, and my impression is it’s really both.”
Netanyahu to make weekend visit to Rome
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will fly to Rome in March for his third official trip since he returned to power in December, his office announces.
In early February, Netanyahu visited French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.
As he did on the Paris trip, Netanyahu will fly on Thursday, and will spend the weekend in Rome, returning Saturday night.
In January, Netanyahu made a secret visit to Jordan, which was only publicized upon his return.
Troops arrest 2 suspected terrorists behind killing of Elan Ganeles
Israeli troops arrest the alleged terrorists who carried out a deadly shooting attack earlier this week near the West Bank city of Jericho.
The Israel Defense Forces says troops entered the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp, adjacent to Jericho, and arrested two suspected terrorists.
A third suspect who was with the two suspected gunmen was shot as he attempted to flee, the IDF says.
The operation comes as US-Israeli citizen Elan Ganeles, who was killed in the attack on Monday, is being buried.
The IDF says it also seized a handgun during the raid.
Israeli baby lightly hurt as car stoned in West Bank
An Israeli infant is lightly hurt after Palestinians hurl stones at motorists in the West Bank, medics say.
The Magen David Adom ambulance service says the 2-month-old child is lightly hurt by glass fragments after a rock hits an Israeli-owned car on Route 505, near the settlement of Tapuah.
Smotrich: Huwara should be wiped out
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich says the Palestinian village that was the scene of a deadly settler rampage earlier this week should be “wiped out.”
Speaking at a financial conference, Smotrich, who is also the head of the far-right Religious Zionism party and a minister with responsibility for civil affairs in the West Bank within the Defense Ministry, is asked why he liked a tweet calling for Huwara to be wiped out.
“Because I think the village of Huwara should be wiped out,” Smotrich says.
“I think the State of Israel should be the one to wipe it out, not, God forbid, private people,” he says.
שר האוצר @bezalelsm בראיון עמי לוועידה הפיננסית של דמרקר: ״עשיתי לייק לציוץ שקרא למחוק את הכפר חווארה, כיוון שאני חושב שאת הכפר חווארה צריך למחוק. המדינה היא זו שצריכה למחוק אותו״. pic.twitter.com/bYOC64Y1U8
— מתן חודורוב (@MatanHodorov) March 1, 2023
Netanyahu backs Ben Gvir, says right to protest does not allow for anarchy
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issues a statement condeming the “anarchy” of anti-government protesters and backing National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s call for zero tolerance against demonstrators blocking roads.
“We will not accept violence against police officers, blocking of roads and blatant violation of the laws,” Netanyahu says in a statement. “The right to protest is not the right to anarchy.”
Netanyahu says he gives “full backing to National Security Minister Ben Gvir and to the Israel Police chief and police officers, who are working against those who violate the law and disrupt the lives of Israeli citizens.”
Police deploy water cannons to disperse anti-overhaul protesters in Tel Aviv
Police have begun to use water cannons in an attempt to disperse crowds of anti-government protesters blocking the road in Tel Aviv.
Video shows streams of water spraying toward protesters blocking major streets in Tel Aviv, after officers threw stun grenades earlier and are using horses to push back the crowds.
המשטרה החלה לעשות שימוש במכת"זיות בתל אביב | משדר מיוחד >>> https://t.co/SWV0k9FNUl@OferHalfonKan pic.twitter.com/KIB94L0ffm
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) March 1, 2023
2 arrested protesters served in elite IDF unit, says reservist protest group
A protest group of reservist soldiers says two demonstrators detained earlier today were combat soldiers in the elite Sayeret Matkal unit.
Brothers in Arms, which has been calling for the refusal to perform reserve duty over the government judicial overhaul plans, says one of the men served on the same team as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Sayeret Matkal.
It says the two men are being taken to a court now to have their remand extended.
“His arrest symbolizes exactly what is happening here: Sayeret Matkal is in custody, and Netanyahu is a prisoner of Ben Gvir,” the group says.
It calls on Netanyahu to “stop the legal coup, instead of stopping his teammates.”
Cop seen kneeling on protester’s neck during clashes at Tel Aviv rally
A police officer is seen kneeling on the neck of a protester amid clashes between police and demonstrators in Tel Aviv.
In video of the incident, a group of officers are seen wrestling with a single protester before bringing him down to the ground, and one cop kneeling on his neck to subdue him while several others hold him down.
שוטר תועד כורע ברך על צווארו של מפגין
לעדכונים השוטפים – https://t.co/HuYRYslbzq pic.twitter.com/BUvF236EdL
— חדשות 13 (@newsisrael13) March 1, 2023
IDF troops enter refugee camp near Jericho to hunt for terrorist shooters
The Israel Defense Forces says troops are operating in the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp near Jericho in the West Bank.
The operation is apparently related to the search for the gunmen who carried out a deadly shooting attack in the area on Monday, killing US-Israeli citizen Elan Ganeles.
Palestinian media reports say armed clashes have erupted in the area.
Footage shows a convoy of IDF vehicles entering the area.
تغطية صحفية: لحظة اقتحام قوات الاحتلال لمدينة أريحا. pic.twitter.com/zrKc7PDlz9
— شبكة قدس الإخبارية (@qudsn) March 1, 2023
Lapid to police: Ignore Ben Gvir’s attempts to prevent protesters expressing opinions
As anti-government protesters clash with police in Tel Aviv and across the country, opposition leader Yair Lapid calls on the police to allow them to peacefully protest.
“I call on the Israel Police chief to ignore the dangerous and irresponsible political attempts of Minister Ben Gvir to heat things up even further,” Lapid says in a statement. “The protesters are Israeli patriots and IDF fighters — they are fighting for values of freedom, justice and democracy.”
Lapid says the job of the police “is to allow them to express their opinion and fight for the country they love so much.”
Amid police clash with protesters, Ben Gvir vows ‘zero tolerance for anarchists’
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir tells police officials that there must be “zero tolerance toward anarchists,” amid widespread protests against the planned judicial reform that have led to at least 23 arrests by midday.
Holding a situational assessment with the national police commissioner and Tel Aviv’s police chief, Ben Gvir directs his comments toward protesters “who attack policemen, break through police barriers and lead to anarchy.”
Ben Gvir was silent for more than 12 hours when radical settlers rampaged through the Palestinian town of Huwara on Sunday night, setting fire to homes and cars in a revenge attack for a deadly terrorist shooting.
Several protesters said hurt in Tel Aviv after police throw stun grenades
Several protesters say they are wounded after police throw stun grenades at a mass rally in Tel Aviv.
Omri Lavi tells Channel 13 news that a stun grenade exploded next to him during the protest, hurting his legs. “A stun grenade went off right next to me. I have cuts on my legs and need to seek medical treatment.”
Lavi says that a woman next to him “was bleeding from her ear” after the stun grenade went off. “There is no doubt that the police have decided to take things up a notch today. They see us as enemies of the nation.”
Police say Haifa protester arrested for attacking officer
Police say they have arrested a protester in Haifa for attacking a police officer amid a mass protest against the judicial overhaul plans.
According to police, officers were attempting to clear protesters who were blocking a road, when one of them refused to move and began hitting a police officer.
The protester, a 26-year-old from Haifa, was arrested and brought to the police station for investigation.
At least 10 stun grenades fired by police at Tel Aviv judicial overhaul protesters – report
At least 10 stun grenades were fired by police toward demonstrators blocking the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv, the Ynet news site reports.
There are no immediate reports of injuries.
"הם זורקים עלינו רימונים": תיעוד מהפינוי האלים של המפגינים בדרך השלום pic.twitter.com/Wn03ELUkcV
— וואלה! (@WallaNews) March 1, 2023
Crowds shout ‘shame’ at police officers after they fire stun grenades at demonstrators
Crowds of protesters shout “shame” at police officers attempting to break up the demonstration blocking Tel Aviv’s Ayalon Highway.
The shouts come shortly after police deployed tear gas, stun grenades, and horses against the demonstrators.
“A real shame about the violence but we will not give up on democracy,” a protester tells the Kan public broadcaster.
Police use stun grenades, tear gas to disperse Tel Aviv protesters against judicial overhaul
Police say they are using riot dispersal means to clear a crowd of protesters at the Hashalom Interchange in Tel Aviv.
According to footage from the scene, police are deploying tear gas, stun grenades, and using horses against demonstrations protesting the government’s judicial overhaul.
המשטרה משתמשת ברימוני הלם ופרשים כדי לפנות את המפגינים מאזור הירידה לאיילון pic.twitter.com/ID6wWAtZXj
— Bar Peleg (@bar_peleg) March 1, 2023
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