On Saturday, July 22, tens of thousands of Israelis marched through the streets of Jerusalem in protest of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed judicial overhaul. The Israeli government, which leans towards the right-wing, has been facing mounting pressure over this issue. Additionally, more than 1,100 Israeli air force reservists, including fighter pilots, have threatened to suspend their volunteer service ahead of the parliamentary vote on the judicial overhaul scheduled for Monday. The protests reflect the significant public discontent and concern over the proposed changes to the judiciary system in Israel.
The anti-overhaul protesters are marching to Jerusalem ahead of the upcoming vote which has reportedly sought to curb the powers of the Israeli supreme court. This comes months after Netanyahu suspended the overhaul push after nationwide protests and international pressure.
However, since the talks with opposition parties ground to a halt the country’s PM relaunched the legislation scrapping parts of the proposal while retaining others. One of them will limit the Supreme Court’s ability to void decisions it deems “unreasonable” by the government and ministers.
The legislation had been on hold for several weeks but the government has sought to pass the law before a July 30 Knesset (Israeli parliament) recess. As a part of the legislation, the Knesset would be able to overrule the top court’s decisions with a simple majority, which critics say will lead to corruption and abuses of power.
Protesters’ days-long march to Jerusalem
Images show a column of protesters walking up the main highway to Jerusalem while carrying blue and white Israeli flags in sweltering heat to the sounds of beating drums and anti-government chants and cheers, reported Reuters. The march also came amid one of the hottest weeks of the year in Israel.
The protesters have been walking for days and plan to rally outside the Israeli parliament ahead of the Sunday debate and subsequent vote on the bill which has sought to limit the powers of the country’s supreme court.
The march that began on Tuesday from Tel Aviv with a handful of people became one of the most resonant events of the seven-month anti-overhaul protest movement. Marchers have been setting up camps overnight and also met with locals who offer them food and drinks.
When asked if this march could stop the bill from passing, protest leader Shikma Bressler told Reuters that she does not know but “the vote is not the last step.” She added, “This is why we are trying to build the forces…in this country to choose right from wrong, to choose light from darkness.”
Demonstrations expected in 150 locations
According to local media reports, in addition to the large protest outside the Knesset on Saturday evening, the anti-overhaul protesters are also expected to rally outside Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem. Furthermore, demonstrations will also be held at Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Street which has been the site of the main weekly anti-government protests.
The upcoming demonstration will mark the 29th week of protests against the contentious proposed judicial overhaul where hundreds of thousands of people are expected to rally at over 150 locations across Israel against Netanyahu’s government.