Police and protesters prepare for larger anti-government protests in Tel Aviv

Police and anti-government protesters were preparing for massive Saturday night protests in Tel Aviv, which are expected to draw as many as 100,000 people, according to estimates cited in a Friday night television report. Other demonstrations are scheduled for other parts of the country, including Jerusalem, Haifa and Beersheba.

Channel 12 reported that police approved plans to deploy 1,000 officers in Tel Aviv and block vehicle access to key highways from the afternoon, as protesters prepared for a third consecutive weekend of demonstrations against government plans. led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to implement sweeping changes to the judiciary that would limit the powers of the High Court of Justice.

A protest organized by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel was scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. Saturday night in Habima Square, while other protests organized by other groups will see protesters marching nearby, down the street. Kaplan to the government complex in Tel Aviv. Organizers saying the change to Habima Square will allow more people to attend in a slightly less residential area. The northbound and southbound Ayalon Expressway exits from the Hashalom junction near the protest will also be closed to traffic.

Traffic disruptions, including public bus cancellations, are also expected on Menachem Begin Street, Arlozorov Street, Namir Road, Shaul Hamelech Boulevard and Dubnow Street until the protests conclude on Saturday night.

The Movement for Quality Government in Israel said it would protest under the slogan “’Freedom. Equality. Quality of Government’, against the dangerous revolution that the new government plans to promote, a revolution that will destroy Israeli democracy”.

“We will continue to raise our voices against these malicious and dangerous plans,” the group said in a statement, calling for legal protests across the country.

In an assessment on Thursday, police predicted larger crowds to turn out in Tel Aviv this Saturday than last week’s demonstration, which took place during heavy rain, numbering some 80,000, following a clear weather forecast and a bombshell High Court ruling this week declaring Shas chief Aryeh Deri ineligible to be a government minister.

Police officers also expressed fear of clashes with right-wing counter-protesters, who have called on social media for pro-government activists to take to the streets, Channel 12 reported on Friday.

Smaller protests are also expected in Jerusalem, Haifa and other parts of the country.

After skipping the events of last week, opposition leader Yair Lapid said he would attend this weekend and reportedly lead a march, along with other members of the opposition, including Benny Gantz, head of the National Unity party. Former defense minister and IDF chief Moshe Ya’alon, who retired from politics in 2021 and has been a fierce critic of Netanyahu, and former deputy attorney general Dina Zilber are expected to speak at the rallies, the media reported on Friday. Channel 12.

Gantz called on Israelis across the political spectrum to come out on Saturday in a video posted to social media on Friday.

“No matter what their political positions are, on Saturday night everyone will take to the streets to tell the government: it is possible to reach broad agreements [to draft reforms more acceptable to the public] but we must not ignore what the founders of the country wrote in the Declaration of Independence, and what we have built here for 75 years,” he said.

“We march to say yes to reforms and no to retaliatory measures that will dismantle Israeli resilience and democracy,” he added.

MK Gideon Sa’ar, the number 2 in National Unity, said on Friday he would also attend the protest, calling on members of his right-wing New Hope subfaction to join the rally after being absent from the latest rally.

“We are at the top of the fight for the future of Israel. There is neither left nor right in the fight to protect the democratic regime. This fateful struggle of the citizens of the country is for the benefit of the future of our children on this earth, a struggle imposed on us by a dangerous and rampant government,” Sa’ar wrote to party activists via the Telegram messaging app.

The Quality Government Movement previously explained that there would be two separate protest sites, in Habima Square and on Kaplan Street, due to the expectation that more people would attend this weekend.

Protest group Black Flag, one of the organizers of the Kaplan Street protest, said it has seen a surge in interest in attending after Wednesday’s High Court ruling on Deri and urged opposition politicians to come forward. .

“Following the attack on the judiciary over Deri’s disqualification and calls from within the coalition to defy the ruling, the rally organizers are calling on opposition party leaders to announce that they will attend the mass rally and they will stop at the head of the protest march,” the group said in a statement.

Student Protest, which describes itself as a non-partisan group fighting for democracy, promised it would also join the demonstrations. The group on Monday thrown out a coordinated hour-long “strike” at the universities against the reforms.

Protests last weekend centered on the government’s proposal to massively alter the judicial system, with plans to increase political control over the selection of judges and bar the High Court from exercising judicial oversight over Knesset laws and Government policies.

Following the judges’ ruling on Wednesday that Deri could not serve as interior and health minister in the government due to recent and previous criminal convictions, leaving the coalition Fight looking for a way to circumvent the decision and give Deri another high-ranking role. The leader Shas is said to be in conversations with Netanyahu for the role of deputy prime minister, though disagreements are said to persist.

Coalition members denounced the court’s decision and said they would seek to circumvent it.

After the ruling, the anti-Netanyahu Crime Minister protest group called on the public to take to the streets in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Beersheba and Modiin.

At last weekend’s demonstration, police estimated that some 80,000 people gathered in Habima Square and the surrounding streets, while smaller demonstrations were held in Jerusalem and Haifa.

Among those who attended Tel Aviv last weekend were former opposition leader Tzipi Livni, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Gantz, former IDF chief and National Unity deputy Gadi Eisenkot, Labor leader Merav Michaeli and the Ra’am chief Mansour Abbas.

After the protest, Netanyahu played down the criticism at the weekly cabinet meeting and argument that the planned changes would strengthen democracy rather than hasten its end. He also maintains that the government is carrying out the will of the people.

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