ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 139

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Netanyahu tweets claim that protesters against overhaul blocked ambulances

PM shares headline from report based on stories of people delayed by heavy traffic; Magen David Adom says ambulances had longer response time; no reports of deliberate impediment

Protesters block the Tel Aviv-Haifa highway near Beit Yanai during a protest against the judicial overhaul, July 11, 2023 (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Protesters block the Tel Aviv-Haifa highway near Beit Yanai during a protest against the judicial overhaul, July 11, 2023 (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted a headline from an article claiming that protesters against the government’s judicial overhaul package blocked ambulances during mass demonstrations across the country on Tuesday.

Traffic was snarled across the country as protesters blocked roads, however there were no reports of emergency services being deliberately delayed.

Netanyahu’s post included a screen capture of a headline from the Makor Rishon news site claiming “leftist protesters blocked ambulances, cancer patients and the disabled,” which accompanied an article collecting various stories of people or medical treatment being delayed by the protests.

The tweet was Netanyahu’s first response to the protests, which came hours after the Knesset passed, in a first vote, the first piece of legislation from its overhaul package.

While people were undoubtedly delayed during the protests throughout the day, the article’s claim of demonstrators blocking ambulances, appeared to be unfounded.

FakeReporter, an Israeli group that fact-checks online claims, said that Likud politicians and activists had sent out messages claiming massive delays facing ambulances, but that after checking with the Magen David Adom emergency service, found that they were based on fictitious accounts.

MDA did say in a statement that a number of ambulances were briefly delayed due to road closures earlier in the day, but there was no mention of deliberate blocking.

Reporter Ben Caspit, who is closely aligned with the protest movement, tweeted footage of protesters moving out of the way so an ambulance could pass by and wrote that he believed if the junction had been filled with traffic as it normally is, the ambulance would have taken even more time to pass.

Israeli protesters have long used the tactic of blocking roads to raise awareness of their cause, though the current government has sought to crack down on the practice at anti-overhaul demonstrations.

The country also sees mass events such as funerals of prominent religious leaders, which also result in road closures and subsequent delays.

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