In Israel, the mobilization against the reform of justice does not weaken

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In Israel, the mobilization against the reform of justice does not weaken

Ohad Zwigenberg Associated Press In Tel Aviv, thousands of people displaying the Israeli flag demonstrate in the center of town. The demonstrators notably blocked the main urban highway.

International airport blocked, official visit disrupted, central Tel Aviv invaded by demonstrators: the mobilization against judicial reform in Israel does not weaken, with Thursday a new “national day of resistance against the dictatorship”.


More than 65,000 people are demonstrating across the country as of midday, according to an estimate by Israeli TV Channel 13 (private). This figure testifies to a strong mobilization on the scale of the Israeli population (more than 9 million inhabitants).

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leaving for an official visit to Rome, had to reach the airport aboard a helicopter.

The protests have also forced US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to cut short his visit to Israel.

Arrived at midday as part of a regional tour, Austin is due to joint press conference with his counterpart Yoav Gallant near Ben-Gurion airport, access to which has been blocked for several hours by hundreds of cars displaying Israeli flags.

Passengers wanting to access the terminals or out are forced to walk with their suitcases, according to an AFP photographer on site.

In a chorus of car horns, protesters chant “Democracy!” and “Freedom!” in the face of a large police force.

In Tel Aviv, thousands of people also displaying the Israeli flag are demonstrating in the center of the city, surrounded by police on foot and on horseback. The demonstrators notably blocked the main urban highway.

“Also for you”

“We are here for you too,” sing the demonstrators, some making a heartbeat with their hands in the direction of the police, according to AFP journalists on the spot.

Hundreds of rallies are planned throughout the country to the call of the organizers of the protest movement against the judicial reform who called for demonstrations and blocking the roads.

“The right of expression is not the door to anarchy and should not disrupt the lives of citizens,” said National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir. “It is forbidden to block the main thoroughfares,” he warned.

Among the most right-wing in Israel's history, the coalition set up in December by Mr. Netanyahu is trying to pass legislation that would effectively give him the power to appoint judges and significantly limit the prerogatives of the Supreme Court, including its ability to invalidate laws.

Since the announcement of the text in early January, massive protests took place across the country.

According to its critics, the text threatens the democratic character of the State of Israel. The government asserts that the reform is necessary to restore a balance of power between elected officials and an “independent” but not “omnipotent” justice, in the words of Mr. Netanyahu, who accuses the Supreme Court of being politicized.

Idle pleas for calm

On the frontline of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, three armed Palestinians, including two Islamic Jihad fighters, were killed Thursday morning in an exchange of fire with Israeli forces in the northern occupied West Bank.

According to Israeli security forces, the three Palestinians, two of them wanted for armed attacks against Israelis, were killed during an “anti-terrorist operation” in which a special unit took part.

The Islamic Jihad and Hamas, another Palestinian Islamist movement, have promised revenge.

This new episode comes in a climate of rising violence since the Netanyahu government took office, and while the UN's repeated calls for calm resound in the desert.

The Israeli-Israeli conflict has claimed the lives of 75 Palestinian adults and children, fighters and civilians, as well as 13 Israeli adults and children and a Ukrainian woman since the start of the year, according to an AFP tally based on official sources from both parties.

On Tuesday, the author of an attack that claimed the lives of two young Israeli settlers on February 26, was killed along with five other Palestinians, in a new raid by the Israeli army in the Jenin refugee camp, another Palestinian city in the West Bank.

Hit by gunfire during this operation, a 14-year-old boy died, the Palestinian Ministry of Health announced Thursday.

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