Tens of thousands of Israelis took to the streets on Sunday to protest after the resignation of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who on Saturday became the first member of the government to oppose the controversial judicial reform.
The demonstrations, which according to local media gathered several tens of thousands of people, took place in different parts of the country, mainly in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
In Tel Aviv, thousands of people blocked traffic on the city’s main artery, waving Israeli flags and chanting “Democracy, democracy.”
In Jerusalem, several hundred protesters broke through one of the security cordons near the residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a promoter of judicial reform, and clashed with the police.
Groups of protesters also gathered in the cities of Haifa, in the north of the country, and Beer Sheva, in the south.
Unlike the protests against judicial reform that have been taking place for the last 12 weeks, usually planned in advance in coordination with the security forces, today’s protests were spontaneous.
The rejection of Gallant’s dismissal by Netanyahu quickly spread to various spheres of Israeli society, including the unions, which according to local media could announce a general strike on Monday.
In addition, the Israeli consul in New York, Asaf Zamir, announced his resignation shortly after the resignation of the minister.
“After today’s events, the time has come to join the fight for the future of Israel to ensure that it continues to be a beacon of democracy and freedom in the world,” he wrote on his Twitter account.
The Prime Minister’s decision to dismiss the Defense Minister came less than 24 hours after the latter publicly called for a halt to the controversial reform.
“I am saying loudly and publicly that for the sake of the State of Israel and our children, we must stop this legislative process,” Gallant said Saturday during a televised address.
The judicial reform, promoted by Netanyahu and his far-right and ultra-Orthodox coalition partners, seeks to give more power to the Executive to the detriment of the judiciary, whose independence would be undermined.
The government intends to pass the law this week, prompting protest organizers to step up the protests.