Israelis rally against judicial reform, Palestinian crime deaths

People carry national flags as they protest the Israeli's government's controversial judicial reform plans, in Tel Aviv on June 10, 2023. (Photo: Jack Guez/ AFP)

Tens of thousands of demonstrators have gathered in cities and towns across Israel for the twenty-third week, protesting the controversial plans of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to reform the country's judiciary and the violent attacks on Palestinian communities.

The massive demonstrations, which attracted approximately 100,000 people on Saturday, began in January, shortly after Netanyahu's far-right government took office.

The protest organizers have stated that they will not give up until the government cancels the proposed legal changes rather than deferring them as the demonstrations gain momentum and attract crowds of over 200,000 individuals.

Michal Gat, a protester in central Tel Aviv, stated, "Extremists are taking over our country... we are being held hostage."

The 47-year-old tech worker told the AFP news agency, "It is crucial for the Israeli people to maintain Israel's democratic status."

Some protestors also carried signs criticizing the government's inaction in the face of an escalating crime surge affecting Palestinian citizens of Israel.

According to Israeli media, approximately 102 Palestinian-Israelis have been slain in crime-related violence since the beginning of the year.

Police say that five Palestinian-Israelis were shot and killed on Thursday at a vehicle wash in Yafia, near Nazareth.

Palestinian citizens of Israel have long complained of discrimination and police inaction in the face of violence and crime that affects their communities disproportionately.

One protest sign read, "We will not allow [Itamar] Ben-Gvir to get away with murders in Arab society," referring to Israel's far-right security minister.

Another sign read "dead-class citizen," which was a pun on the term second-class citizen.

According to the organizers, demonstrations were also conducted in Haifa and Rehovot.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak called for a nonviolent civil insurrection against Netanyahu's government in Haifa, stating that "now is not the time for a time-out."

"We must not succumb to delusions... The demonstration must intensify and transform into a civil uprising. Non-violent civil disobedience," he said.

Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, declared a "pause" on the judicial reform plans in March to allow for discussions on the divisive changes.

However, months of negotiations have not yielded any progress.

According to Israeli media, the measure that would weaken the courts and restrict oversight of laws and government decisions could be brought back for a final vote in the parliament at any time.

Netanyahu's coalition government, comprised of his Likud party and extreme-right and ultra-Orthodox Jewish allies, contends that the changes are necessary to rebalance legislative and judicial authority.

When the Israeli parliament approved the state budget last month, Netanyahu pledged to "continue our efforts to reach the broadest possible consensus on the legal reform."

Critics assert that the measure poses a direct threat to civil rights and warn that it will grant unbridled power to the government and undermine the nation's system of checks and balances.

Publish : 2023-06-11 10:41:00

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