The Times of Israel liveblogged Saturday’s events as they occurred.
Police say all protesters cleared from Ayalon Highway
Police say officers have cleared all the protesters from the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv amid tonight’s anti-judicial overhaul rally.
Several were detained earlier for disorderly conduct, police say.
The highway is now reopened in both directions, police add.
זה מה שעושים למפגין בכביש איילון, צפו..???? pic.twitter.com/r2ZUtk9bx5
— חדשות מכל העולם????News-Fox (@kisis007) March 18, 2023
Police working to clear protesters from Ayalon Highway
Police say officers are attempting to clear protesters from the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv.
One man has been detained for spraying graffiti on a guard rail, according to police.
המשטרה ניסתה למנוע מהמפגינים לרדת לאיילון, אך למרות המאמצים, איילון נחסם בכמה נקודות (צילום ודיווח: אורן זיו) pic.twitter.com/n5O3WE66Fv
— שיחה מקומית (@mekomit) March 18, 2023
Masked right-wing activists seen confronting protesters in Tel Aviv
Several right-wing activists, some of them masked, are seen confronting protesters demonstrating against the judicial overhaul in Tel Aviv.
Footage published by a Haaretz reporter shows police officers pushing one of the masked men away from the crowd.
There have been several incidents of violence toward protesters tonight across the country.
מפגיני ימין, חלקם רעולי פנים, מנסים לתקוף מפגיני שמאל שיצאו מאזור ההפגנה בקפלן. @FadiAmun מדווח כי הותקף בעת שצילם pic.twitter.com/2P5bnjv0yK
— Bar Peleg (@bar_peleg) March 18, 2023
Four protesters detained while trying to block Ayalon Highway
Police say some 50 protesters are trying to block the Ayalon Highway amid tonight’s demonstration against the government’s judicial overhaul.
The highway is closed by police in both directions as officers work to disperse the protesters, a police spokesperson says.
Two people have been detained while trying to block the northbound Ayalon Highway, and another two on Yigal Alon street, near the entrance to the highway, police say.
איילון, תמונת מצב 21:30
אחרי שהמשטרה חסמה חלק מהפרצות ההמפגינים קופצים מחניון לתוך הכביש. נקודה חדשה של פריצה לאיילון pic.twitter.com/4PPtm3LoOO
— Bar Peleg (@bar_peleg) March 18, 2023
260,000 estimated at anti-judicial overhaul rallies nationwide
Israeli company Crowd Solutions estimates that some 175,000 demonstrators are gathered at the main anti-judicial overhaul rally in Tel Aviv, Channel 13 news reports.
The company says another 85,000 are gathered in other cities across the country, bringing the total number of protesters to around 260,000.
In Jerusalem, an estimated 10,000 people are gathered outside the President’s Residence, according to Hebrew-language media reports.
Opponents of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government have been taking to the streets for 11 straight weeks to protest Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s proposals to radically constrain judiciary by severely curbing the High Court of Justice’s judicial review powers and cementing coalition control over the appointment of judges.
Man detained for allegedly ramming car into protesters in Herzliya, wounding one
Police say they have detained a 57-year-old man who allegedly rammed his car into a group of protesters in the city of Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv.
One protester is lightly hurt and taken to the Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, police add.
הרצליה: עימות בין מפגינים לנהג, שלטענת המוחים פגע באחד מהם ודרס אותו@lirankog pic.twitter.com/YQNaos3a3t
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) March 18, 2023
Coalition scheduled to advance judicial overhaul this week
The coalition is set to drive ahead with an array of highly controversial legislation this week, including advancing the judicial and legal overhaul, as well as bills to assist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Shas leader Aryeh Deri with their legal troubles.
Among the legislation set to be advanced this week is a bill to allow Netanyahu to receive donations to fund his legal expenses in his criminal trials; a bill to allow Shas leader Aryeh Deri to return to ministerial office despite a High Court ruling banning him from doing so; a bill to ensure Netanyahu cannot be forced to recuse himself due to a conflict of interests he might have between his criminal trial and the government’s radical legal reforms; and a bill allowing hospitals to stop people from bringing hametz, or leavened goods, onto their premises during Passover, an arrangement previously struck down by the High Court.
The law for donations to Netanyahu’s legal expenses is expected to come for its first reading in the Knesset plenum; the so-called Deri Two law – since it is the second law being passed in this Knesset to allow him to serve as a minister – will also come for a first reading; the recusal law will likely be passed into law in its second and third readings; and the hametz law is also supposed to come to its final readings so that it can be in place for the upcoming Passover holiday.
At the same time, the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee will hold four hearings to prepare the law designed to give the government full control over all judicial appointments for its second and third readings.
That bill, a central pillar of the government’s judicial overhaul program, will likely be brought for its second and third readings the following week, the last week of the Knesset’s winter session.
Following the rejection by the coalition of President Isaac Herzog’s alternative proposal for judicial reforms, the coalition is reportedly discussing different options to moderate the legislation which has been advanced so far.
Ex-Bank of Israel chief warns judicial overhaul ‘destroying the Zionist enterprise from within’
Jacob Frenkel, a former Bank of Israel chief who until recently chaired JP Morgan Chase International, warns that the coalition’s far-reaching plans for overhauling the judicial system are “destroying the Zionist enterprise from within.”
Speaking at the main protest in Tel Aviv, Frenkel says the judicial overhaul will cause Israel severe economic consequences.
“Our friends are surprised and wonder how a country that was an object of envy and admiration, is destroying the Zionist enterprise by hand in an extreme way from within, and all this in less than three months,” he is quoted as saying by the Haaretz daily.
“The consequences will be felt by every citizen,” Frekel says.
In a “personal call” to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Frenkel says: “You know me well. When you were first elected 27 years ago, you offered me to be your finance minister. I served as [Bank of Israel] chief, and after a decade you offered me to return for another term. I also know you well and appreciate your achievements, so I know that you are aware that the reform — or what you called a reform — puts all your years in office at risk.”
הנגיד לשעבר יעקב פרנקל איתנו בהפגנה. pic.twitter.com/JVroKk3i7S
— Iris Leal (@LealIris_) February 25, 2023
Likud minister says coalition should show more willingness to compromise on judicial overhaul
Culture and Sports Minister Miki Zohar says the government should show more willingness to compromise on the judicial overhaul.
Speaking to Channel 12 news, the Likud minister says “the reform is required, it is the right thing to do, but we will compromise so that it will be good for the people of Israel.”
“If we continue to keep our head in the sand, and the [societal] rift deepens, it will be the State of Israel that is hurt,” he says.
Likud MK calls to halt judicial overhaul legislation, hold talks
Likud MK Yuli Edelstein calls to freeze the judicial overhaul in order to hold talks with its opponents.
Speaking to Channel 13 news, Edelstein says the government should “stop in order to talk.”
“Really, we could have done this a while ago for several reasons. Not only to give a chance for dialogue but also not to fuel the protests,” he says.
“If you always say, ‘We won’t stop, not even for a moment, and we will pass the reform as is,’ you are only helping recruit more and more power to the protests,” Edelstein adds.
Last week, Edelstein was sanctioned by the Likud after he broke ranks, missing two key votes tied to the coalition’s sweeping plan to shift power from the judiciary to politicians.
Using water cannons, police clear northern highway blocked by protesters; 7 detained
Police say they have detained seven protesters for disorderly conduct at the Karkur Junction in northern Israel.
Earlier, hundreds of protesters demonstrating against the government’s judicial overhaul plans blocked the Route 65 highway at the junction.
Police deployed water cannons to disperse the crowd.
The highway has now been reopened, police say.
Likud denies reports of freezing judicial overhaul legislation
In a brief statement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party denies reports that have apparently said the government plans to freeze the judicial overhaul legislation.
“The reports about the freezing of the reform are not true,” a party spokesman says.
It is unclear which reports the Likud is referring to.
Man detained for driving motorcycle into anti-overhaul protesters in Givatayim
Police say officers have detained a 24-year-old man for driving a motorcycle into a group of protesters in the Tel Aviv suburb of Givatayim.
He is suspected of assault and making threats.
None of the protesters, who are demonstrating against the government’s judicial overhaul plans, are hurt in the incident.
נהג טוסטוס ניסה לדרוס מפגינים בויצמן גבעתיים pic.twitter.com/P1fXeGGLX2
— לירי בורק שביט (@lirishavit) March 18, 2023
Likud supporters said to hurl eggs at anti-overhaul protesters in Or Akiva; 3 arrested
Supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party hurl eggs at demonstrators protesting the government’s legal shakeup plan in the city of Or Akiva, the Ynet news site reports.
The report says they shouted at the protesters “Anarchists, only Bibi,” referring to Netanyahu by nickname.
Police say officers have detained three people at the scene for hurling eggs.
תומכי ליכוד זרקו ביצים על מפגינים באור עקיבא, שלושה נעצרוhttps://t.co/UnK2rhiOZz pic.twitter.com/EJQi0t0UkP
— ynet עדכוני (@ynetalerts) March 18, 2023
WATCH: Thousands gather in Tel Aviv for weekly anti-government protest
Thousands of people are gathering on Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv for a weekly protest against the government’s judicial overhaul plans.
Channel 12 news is live-streaming footage from the rally below.
IDF: Rocket launched from Gaza Strip lands in open field
The Israel Defense Forces says a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip landed in an open field near the southern town of Nahal Oz.
There are no reports of injuries or damage in the attack.
The IDF says the Iron Dome air defense system was not used as the projectile was predicted to land in an unpopulated area.
Police use water cannons against anti-overhaul protesters blocking northern highway
Police are using water cannons against demonstrators blocking the Route 65 highway at the Karkur Junction in northern Israel.
A police statement says the protest has been deemed “illegal” and in response is using crowd dispersal means.
הבואש כעת בצומת כרכור. בשעה זו כביש 65 חסום ובמקום אלפי מפגינים pic.twitter.com/wJ6DF8z54b
— המקום הכי חם בגיהנום (@ha_makom) March 18, 2023
The protesters are demonstrating against the government’s judicial overhaul plans.
Rocket sirens sound in Nahal Oz on Gaza border
Incoming rocket sirens are sounding in the southern town of Nahal Oz, close to the border with the Gaza Strip.
The military says the cause of the siren is still being investigated.
Police detain elderly man for allegedly threatening Netanyahu in social media video
Police say officers have detained and later released a man in his 70s from central Israel for allegedly threatening Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a social media video.
The suspect, from the Sharon region — the coastal plain south of Haifa and north of Tel Aviv — is suspected of recording a video in which he “expresses himself, among other things, towards the PM, in a manner that constitutes a suspicion of the offense of threats,” police say.
After questioning, the man is released to house arrest, police add.
In apparent first, Bedouin Israelis join in anti-overhaul protests
A number of Bedouin Israelis are protesting against the government’s legal overhaul plans at the Hura junction in southern Israel, in an apparent first.
Standing alongside several Jewish Israelis, the group holds signs reading “This is the home of all of us” and “Equal rights and democracy for all of us.”
Demonstrators are gathering at dozens of locations across the country for the 11th consecutive weekend of protests since Justice Minister Yariv Levin announced the plan to strip power from the country’s courts to the benefit of the ruling coalition, setting off a fierce backlash from opponents who believe the move will fundamentally alter Israel’s democratic system by removing the only real check on unfettered majority rule.
התחלנו. ההפגנה הראשונה בחברה הבדואית בנגב. צומת חורה pic.twitter.com/d5NkzzItTW
— ilana curiel (@ilanacuriel) March 18, 2023
Man detained over graffiti on justice minister’s home branding him ‘enemy of the people’
Police say they have detained a man for questioning over graffiti denouncing Justice Minister Yariv Levin that was spray-painted on an outer wall of his home in Modiin.
The graffiti found yesterday called Levin “the enemy of the people.”
Police say the suspect in his 60s, also a resident of Modiin, is being questioned at a local police station over the circumstances of the incident and motive.
Levin, a top Likud party confidante of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is a leading figure in the government’s push to overhaul the judicial system, which has been met with mass protests.
Police shutter roads in Tel Aviv as 11th week of rallies against legal overhaul begin
Police begin to close main roads in central Tel Aviv ahead of major anti-government rallies that will be held in the coastal city this evening.
Tens of thousands of people are expected at the main protest on Kaplan Street.
Several more demonstrations are anticipated in other cities around the country, including Jerusalem, Haifa, Herzliya and Beersheba.
Opponents of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government have been taking to the streets for 11 straight weeks to protest 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.
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