Tens of thousands of Israelis took to the streets on Thursday, intensifying a months-long campaign decrying the proposed overhaul that would curb some Supreme Court powers and tighten political control over the appointment of judges, Reuters reported.
In Tel Aviv, thousands of protesters raised Israeli flags and marched through the city, stopping traffic in the middle of the working day, while a small group set tires on fire in front of a seaport, blocking traffic for a brief period.
In Jerusalem, the protesters gathered along the walls of the Old City, where they hung a huge copy of the Declaration of Independence.
“What we are doing here is we are fighting for our lives. We are fighting for our lives as a Jewish people together in the State that we have been building for 75 years,” said Avidan Friedman, who was wearing a Jewish prayer shawl over his head.
“We are fighting because we feel like what’s going on now is tearing us apart and we are calling on the government to stop,” he added.
Protests have escalated since the beginning of the year, when the far-right government of Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, proposed new legislation that would limit the Supreme Court powers, with the proposal raising concerns at home and abroad.
Army reservists have also joined the protests, while senior Finance Ministry officials warned this week of a severe impact on the economy. However, Netanyahu is pushing ahead with the legislation, which includes bills that give the government decisive power to appoint court judges and limit the court’s power to strike down laws.
On Thursday, Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed a new law that would prevent an incumbent prime minister from being declared unfit to hold office by the Attorney General, which would be in the interests of Netanyahu, who is on trial on corruption charges.