Protesters Kick Off ‘Day Of Disruption’ In Israel By Blocking Highways Over Judicial Plan

(Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

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Kate Anderson Contributor
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Thousands of Israeli protesters blocked several highways and congregated outside of the Tel Aviv stock exchange Tuesday to protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to overhaul the judicial system, according to The Associated Press.

The protests took place on a planned “Day of Disruption” after Netanyahu moved ahead with legislation, scheduled for a vote by the Israeli parliament next week, that would create more limits to judicial oversight on certain government decisions, according to the AP. The protests Tuesday are planned to go on throughout the day, particularly around transit areas during rush hour. (RELATED: Form Israeli Prime Minister Says US Is ‘No Longer Our Closest Ally’)

“This government is totally insane. We are afraid for our democracy, for everything we’ve built — that’s why we are all here fighting,” Itai Bar Natan, 48, CFO of an Israeli start-up, told the AP.

Demonstrators have set off smoke bombs, formed human chairs to prevent access to the military headquarters, and brought signs saying “save our startup nation” and “dictatorship will kill the economy,” according to the AP. Many of the protesters are military reservists, who had threatened to not show up for duty if Netanyahu’s plan makes it through the Knesset, according to the AP.

Demonstrators lift flags as they stage a ‘day of resistance’ to protest the Israeli government’s judicial overhaul bill, in Tel Aviv on July 18, 2023.  (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

Netanyahu released a statement Monday, warning the soldiers that if they do not show up for duty it would put Israel at risk and that there would be consequences for their absence, according to a post from his Twitter account.

“It is not possible for there to be a group within the army that will threaten the elected government: ‘If you do not do as we wish – we will lower the security barrier’ … no democratic country can accept such a dictate, such a dictate is the destruction of democracy,” Netanyahu said. “The refusal endangers the security of all Israeli citizens. The government will not accept refusals, the government will act against it and the government will take all necessary steps to ensure our security and our future.”

The demonstrations are taking place as Israeli President Isaac Herzog is meeting with President Joe Biden and later delivering a speech to Congress Wednesday. The Biden administration has been pushing against the plan for reform for months, and Biden recently had a phone call with Netanyahu Monday to discuss rising violence in the West Bank. He asked Netanyahu to reach the “broadest possible consensus” on the judicial reform issue, according to a White House readout of the call.

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