Throngs of people demonstrated against the judicial reform throughout all of Israel on Thursday.
Protestors blocked traffic into the departures area at Ben-Gurion Airport as part of the nationwide judicial reform protests taking place throughout the country. The aim was to hamper Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's planned flight to Italy.
Due to protests, a helicopter arrived to take Netanyahu and his wife Sara to the airport directly from Jerusalem.
"We are trying to reach an understanding regarding the reform," Netanyahu before boarding the plane. "Unfortunately, I see that until now all these efforts have been met with a blanket refusal by the opposition and there are attempts by the opposition to drag the country into anarchy. The issue is not the reform, their goal is to bring about the sixth elections and we will do everything to prevent that."
Opposition leader Yair Lapid responded to Netanyahu's comments, saying that "even on the steps of the plane, on his way to a wasteful and unnecessary weekend at the expense of the state, Netanyahu cannot stop lying. The government did not agree to any attempt at negotiation and continues to push through the legislation that will turn us into a messianic, extremist and undemocratic country."
Police at the airport were handing out tickets to protesters who were determined to be violating the law, and one protester was hit by a car on the expressway to Ben-Gurion Airport's Terminal 3.
Tel Aviv police chief dismissed
National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport several hours ahead of the prime minister, saying he was there to prevent anarchy. Several hours later, he, alongside Israel Police, announced the dismissal of Tel Aviv district chief Amichai Eshed.
Arrests made during judicial reform protests
Altogether, at least 24 protesters were arrested throughout the so-called "Day of Disruption," with the majority of police reports claiming a disturbance to the peace as the cause of arrest.
According to N12, approximately 3,000 Israeli security service personnel were active on Thursday across the country in response to the protests.
Protesters attempted to block major roads throughout the country, mainly in central Israel and surrounding Tel Aviv, causing severe tensions on Israeli roads throughout the day and violent interactions between protesters and drivers.
Namely, Ayalon Highway, one of the most major highways in central Israel, was blocked in both directions for close to two hours due to clashes between police and protesters in the street. Traffic on the highway only resumed around 4 p.m.
The maritime route to the port of Haifa, too, was completely blocked in the morning due to the flotilla from the organization "Sailors to Save Democracy" up and down the coast.
Reservists protest outside Kohelet Forum building, IDF official arrested
Hundreds of IDF reservists gathered outside the Kohelet Forum buildings in Jerusalem as part of the Brothers in Arms' reservists protest against the judicial reforms.
The Kohelet Forum is an Israeli right-wing think tank. While the organization is generally speaking in favor of the government's judicial reform, a senior Kohelet fellow and head of its economic forum, Dr. Michael Sarel, spoke out against them on Wednesday, saying that the "proposed reform will create a situation in which there will be no separation between the authorities by subjecting the judicial system to the will of the coalition."
Israel Police arrested seven IDF reservists who took part in the protests after receiving a report that sandbags and other materials were blocking the entrance to the Kohelet buildings, according to the police. One of those arrested was Lt.-Col. Ron Sharf, a senior officer and former member of Sayeret Matkal.
Protestors demonstrate in Beersheba
In Beersheba, people gathered in protest at the Kiryat HaMemshalah complex, demonstrating in solidarity with those in the Negev area whose towns are being destroyed.
One of the main speakers at the Beersheba rally was former IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, who heavily criticized the members of the government who had come out against IDF personnel threatening to strike.
"The prime minister and his delusional people call Israel's heroes 'traitors', 'anarchists' and 'weaklings'... These are the names they call us," Halutz said. What Israel needs, according to him, is "immediate cessation of the legislative proceedings, a dialogue based on a broad agreement that cuts across sectors and currents, preservation of the Supreme Court and a judicial system free from any threat and adherence to the principles of the Declaration of Independence, which defined equality as a keyword. We want equality for all."