Ahead of the "day of disruption" anti-judicial reform protests that are set to shut down sections of Israel on Thursday, right-wing NGO Regavim filed a petition to the High Court of Justice on Wednesday, asking it to issue an injunction to the Black Flags protest group to cease its activities and for law enforcement to prevent the roadblocks.
Regavim argued that the roadblocks were dangerous for both drivers and pedestrians, and that calls for involvement in the demonstrations were illegal.
“The Israeli public has become accustomed to weekly reports of the blockage of the Ayalon Highway by rioters who ‘spill over’ from the anti-judicial reform demonstrations, leaving the Israel Police powerless to prevent the shutdown of the main traffic artery in the Gush Dan region,” Regavim said.
The petition cited a ruling by former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak on the use of roadblocks during 2005 Gaza disengagement protests, saying that freedom of speech does not permit anarchic and seditious actions or to bring the country to a halt.
Regavim said the petition was filed after appeals to Israel Police Insp.-Gen. Kobi Shabtai were ignored. A major objective was to challenge the lack of law enforcement against organizations such as Black Flags.
The NGO called for the Attorney-General’s Office and the Israel Police to take action against what it said was illegal behavior, such as “raids” on the Kohelet offices.
“The State of Israel is in anarchy – under the auspices of the Israel Police and the judicial system,” Regavim CEO Meir Deutsch said. “We respect legitimate protest actions, but the opponents of the government have long since crossed every redline. The campaign of incitement and hatred that is being waged against millions of voters must be stopped, and the mortal blows that are being inflicted on the citizens of the State of Israel, the resilience of the IDF and the fabric of Israeli society must be halted.”
Black Flags dismissed the petition and said the day of disruption would continue as planned, as a matter of freedom of expression and a nonviolent means to stop “the dictatorship.”
“[Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and [Finance Minister Bezalel] Smotrich, through another of the associations that organize support for the dictatorship and the training of Iranian-like judiciary heads, are trying to harm the right to protest,” Black Flags said in a statement. “They know that the days of disruption are what stop the dictatorship and are trying to shut us up with lies about ‘sedition and ‘violence.’”
The protest groups called for the protests after the end of the Knesset recess, which was a period of judicial reform negotiations. Prior to the recess, massive protests had shut down the country, leading Netanyahu to pause the judicial reform legislation.
While negotiations are ongoing, Black Flags and other activists called on Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid and National Unity chairman Benny Gantz to set a deadline for the negotiations.
“Stop being actors in the Netanyahu Theater!” Black Flags told the opposition leaders on Wednesday. “From the beginning, the goal of the ‘negotiations’ was to stop the protest, and it failed.”
Protests, disruptions and blockades are expected throughout the country on Thursday
As with most of the protests, there will be marches through Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Street, starting at around noon.In the morning, a “parent’s protest” will march from Jaffa Clock Square, Highway 40, Ramat Gan’s Kfar Hayarok, Kibbutz Einat, Nahalal junction and other sites.
Students plan to march outside Tel Aviv University and Bar-Ilan University. Another march of students is expected to leave from Holon’s Mediatheque, and academics plan to rally in Haifa.
A convoy of farming vehicles is expected to drive through the Jezreel Valley. Another protest regarding settlements is expected to include rallies along the Arava Highway.
Demonstrations are planned for in front of Chief Rabbinate offices in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. A march is expected to take place from the Tel Aviv office to the court.
The homes of politicians are also expected to be sites of demonstrations, with protests in the evening in front of the home of Justice Minister Yariv Levin.
The Hi-Tech Workers Protest Group said it was set to hold demonstrations at Tel Aviv’s Habima Square and then in Hod Hasharon, Kfar Saba’s Atir Yeda offices, Herzliya Pituah, Ra’anana, Netanya’s Ikea junction, Yokne’am intersection, Haifa Matam hi-tech park, Petah Tikva, Tel Aviv’s Ramat Hahayal, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange in Ramat Gan, Rehovot Mada Park and Beersheba’s Masada junction.
“Israeli hi-tech, the main growth lever of the Israeli economy, is in a steep decline,” the protest group said. “Tomorrow, we will demonstrate throughout the country to stop the collapse of hi-tech and the economy. We will not stop until the laws of the dictatorship are abolished.”