ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 142

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Sara Netanyahu accosted by protesters at Tel Aviv hair salon, extricated by police

PM’s wife holes up in central Tel Aviv after hundreds of demonstrators surround storefront; protests also resume in Jerusalem, north

Police officers stand guard while people demonstrate against the prime minister's wife Sara Netanyahu, outside a hair salon in Tel Aviv on March 1, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Police officers stand guard while people demonstrate against the prime minister's wife Sara Netanyahu, outside a hair salon in Tel Aviv on March 1, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The prime minister’s wife became trapped in a Tel Aviv hair salon Wednesday as hundreds of protesters against the government gathered outside, with police called to the scene to keep demonstrators away and Sara Netanyahu forced to wait for hours to be extricated.

Protesters against the government and its plans to curb the judiciary rallied and marched in Tel Aviv and other cities around the country throughout the day and resumed protesting at night in several places, including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Nahariya, Pardes Hanna-Karkur and Zichron Ya’akov.

In Tel Aviv, which had seen rare clashes between protesters and police earlier in the day, demonstrators rushed to Kikar HaMedina Plaza upon hearing that Sara Netanyahu was at an establishment there for a haircut.

Police were quickly deployed to keep the masses away, as the premier’s wife holed up inside. Eventually, large police forces arrived on the scene and evacuated Netanyahu.

The incident occurred as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a statement to the nation, comparing protesters who clashed with cops in Tel Aviv to settlers who rampaged through a Palestinian town earlier in the week.

Wednesday saw some of the largest and fiercest protests yet against the government’s plans for the judiciary, with large demonstrations across the country.

In Tel Aviv, demonstrators who tried to block the Ayalon Highway were handled with aggressive measures, including water cannons and stun grenades, the first time such means were used in the recent demonstrations against the planned legislation.

Authorities said 11 people were injured and another 50 arrested.

The anti-government rallies resumed after sundown, with protesters in Tel Aviv marching through the city center before making their way to Kikar Hamedina where they held signs and chanted loudly outside the hair salon.

“The country is burning and Sara is getting a haircut,” protesters chanted — a phrase that rhymes in Hebrew.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L)) and his wife, Sara, ahead of a flight from Tel Aviv to Paris on February 2, 2023. (Lazar Berman/Times of Israel)

Others chanted “May your hair ends burn,” a tongue-in-cheek reference to the far-right refrain to Arabs “May your village burn down.”

Opposition leaders who have backed the protests were nonetheless taken aback by demonstrators’ decision to surround Netanyahu at the hair salon. Both opposition leader Yair Lapid and senior opposition MK Benny Gantz called on protesters to let her leave.

As police arrived, protesters chanted “Where were you in Huwara,” a reference to the fact that settlers were able to riot through the Palestinian town for long hours Sunday before police and the military staged a serious response.

Just before midnight, the premier tweeted a picture of him embracing his wife, writing, “The anarchy needs to stop — it could end up costing lives.”

The hair stylist who was with Netanyahu during the incident told Channel 12 news that he was in shock from what had occurred, but had been calmed down by the prime minister’s wife.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this,” he said.

Justice Minister Yariv Levin said in a statement Wednesday night: “The besiegement of the prime minister’s wife, Mrs. Sara Netanyahu, is insane and unprecedented.

“It’s time to apply the rule of law to those who claim to speak in the name of the law, but who trample the law and individual rights of all those who don’t think like them.”

Police officers stand guard while people demonstrate against the prime minister’s wife Sara Netanyahu, outside a hair salon in Tel Aviv on March 1, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Another Likud minister, May Golan, tweeted that “the protester’s place is in jail, not on Israel’s streets.”

In Jerusalem, which also saw large protests earlier in the day, hundreds of protesters marched toward the Prime Minister’s Residence. The demonstrators were blocked by police as they sought to barricade the road. The showdown lead to minor scuffles with the cops.

Earlier in the evening, police used a water cannon to disperse protesters in Pardes Hanna-Karkur who tried to block Route 65, a major highway. Officers arrested eight suspects who refused to clear the road.

Protesters against the government’s planned judicial overhaul in Jerusalem, March 1, 2023 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The protests coincided with a meeting of the Knesset Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee, which approved for its first reading in the Knesset plenum a government-backed bill to radically restrict the High Court of Justice’s ability to strike down legislation.

The bill is one of several controversial measures being pushed through the Knesset by the government, which most experts say will cause fundamental harm to Israel’s democratic system of governance by concentrating power with the ruling coalition and removing the court’s ability to act as a check

Supporters of the plan say it will fix a situation in which an unelected judiciary has undermined the will of elected politicians.

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