By Eliza Schloss
On Saturday, January 7th, thousands of Israeli citizens gathered in Tel Aviv to protest Netanyahu’s
far-right government. Demonstrators from two separate marches expressed concern over imminent threats to Israeli
democracy and Palestinian rights under an unprecedented religiously and politically conservative
One march led by the grassroots organization Standing Together and left-wing members of the Knesset organized around Jewish-Palestinian equality. In a speech to the crowd, MK Ayman Odeh of Hadash denounced the division incited by Netanyahu’s fascist coalition. At the end of his remarks, Odeh said a protester physically assaulted him.
Just a day before assuming office, the Netanyahu government vowed
to legalize settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank. Currently, over 1,000 Palestinians are at risk of
being forcibly expelled from their homes in Masafer Yatta, south of Hebron, an area that the Israeli military uses
as a firing zone.
The demonstration against anti-democratic measures condemned newly sworn-in Justice Minister Yariv Levin and his efforts to overhaul the state’s judicial system. Levin’s proposed reform would allow the Knesset to nullify Supreme Court decisions with a simple majority vote, weakening the Court’s independence. It would also grant politicians the power to appoint judges and would prohibit the Supreme Court’s ability to revoke administrative decisions by the government on the grounds of “reasonability.” eNoa Sattath, director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, spoke at the Saturday demonstration about the importance of human rights organizations during this time. Sattath, who joined Americans for Peace Now and New Israel Fund on Monday for a webinar, discussed the changing face of Israel’s protest movement.
“We’re seeing large protests that are taking to the streets,” Sattath said in Monday’s webinar. “We’re seeing sectors that have not been outspoken in the past, from lawyers who have never been very vocal to leaders in the software industry, really finding their voice. That’s very encouraging, and I think that a time of crisis is always a time of opportunity.”
With protests likely to continue, MK Itamar Ben-Gvir said
on Monday that police should begin arresting anti-government demonstrators blocking roads. He also said that
police could use water cannons on protestors.
A larger anti-government demonstration is scheduled for this Saturday night in Tel Aviv. Organizers expect a
significantly larger crowd.