Demonstrations were held across Israel on Tuesday as part of a "National Day of Resistance" against the government's judicial reform plan, with protesters disrupting train service and blocking a number of highways, including the Ayalon highway.
A number of roads were temporarily blocked on Tuesday morning, although police quickly cleared them stressing that they would "continue to allow freedom of expression and protest within the limits of the law, but will not allow the violation of public order, the disruption of traffic regulations, and endangering drivers."
At least 45 protesters were arrested as of Tuesday night on suspicion of disturbing the peace, including at least eight at train stations, according to Israel Police.
During a protest on Highway 4 at the HaOgen junction, a protester broke a flag pole on a police officer's head while being detained for disturbing the peace. At the Hadera junction, a driver passing by protesters reportedly sprayed a "burning chemical" on them before driving away, injuring at least four individuals.
A person riding a scooter was arrested under suspicion of assaulting a protester in Tel Aviv, according to police.
During one of the attempts to block a road, a 40-year-old woman was seriously injured after being hit by a car on Highway 531 near Ra'anana after suddenly stepping out of her vehicle on the side of the road. The driver of the car that collided with the woman was detained by police for questioning.
On Tuesday afternoon, dozens of protesters began to gather in train stations across the country, disrupting rail service. Police said they were working to prevent delays to trains. At Hashalom station in Tel Aviv, police prevented some protesters from entering after dozens of protesters crowded the platforms at the station. Trains temporarily skipped the Hashalom station. Two protesters were arrested in demonstrations outside Herzliya's train station.
At Hahagana station in Tel Aviv, six people were arrested for blocking the doors of trains in an attempt to delay them.
Additional protests took place throughout the day in various locations, including in front of the US consulate in Tel Aviv, a number of intersections throughout the country, Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv, in front of the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, and in front of the Pninat Eilat Mall in Eilat, among other locations.
On Tuesday evening, thousands of protesters marched in central Tel Aviv and near the High Court of Justice in Jerusalem. Shortly afterward, hundreds of protesters blocked the Ayalon highway, lighting bonfires and marching down the highway.
The hi-tech and Brothers in Arms protests
The Brothers in Arms reservist organization protested on Kaplan Street early Tuesday morning, chanting: "Gallant is destroying the People's Army!" in Hebrew.
Members of the organization restrained themselves using pipes to bind themselves together in front of the Defense Ministry, which is a "known method of non-violent resistance," according to the organization.
ובתוך הבורסה בתל אביב - מפגינים מאחים לנשק מפזרים שטרות עליהם כתוב ״חוקי הדיקטטורה הורסים את הכלכלה״ pic.twitter.com/ycrIqs3LCB— Matan Golan (@MatanGolanPhoto) July 18, 2023
"The People's Army and Israel's security are in real danger," the organization stated. "If this dictatorial legislation is passed, the People's Army will not last. We are calling on Defense Minister Gallant: You have proven in the past that Israel's security is the most important thing to you, stop the dictatorial legislation now."
The organization also entered the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange building, blocking the entrance and demonstrating alongside hi-tech protesters, with some carrying signs that say: "Save our Economy." The demonstrators carried blocks of concrete and placed them across the road to prevent the arrival of water cannons.
"The People's Army and Israel's security are in real danger. If this dictatorial legislation is passed, the People's Army will not last. We are calling on Defense Minister Gallant: You have proven in the past that Israel's security is the most important thing to you, stop the dictatorial legislation now."Brothers in Arms reservist organization
The hi-tech protest stated that: "This government of destruction ignores all warnings and is turning Israel into an isolated and impoverished dictatorship, and we are all left without security, work, or pensions. We must go to the streets and resist - we cannot allow the government to destroy the economy!"
Additionally, in Tel Aviv, protesters gathered outside the headquarters of the Histadrut Labor Federation and the Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court.
Dozens of protesters also gathered in front of the home of Histadrut Labor Federation chief Arnon Bar-David in Kiryat Ono, according to Israeli media. Protesters also stopped Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana in Beersheba while he was visiting the city, Walla reported.
Right-wing protesters block kibbutzim
On Tuesday afternoon, small groups of right-wing protesters blocked the entrances of Kibbutz Einat and Kibbutz Kinneret, with plans to block additional kibbutzim. Video from Kibbutz Einat showed a right-wing protester shouting at a resident "you rotten leftist. I hate you. Seemingly you're not even Jewish. F%$& you."
5 מפגיני ימין חסמו לזמן קצר את השער של קיבוץ כנרת וקראו קריאות גנאי, המשטרה במקום@rubih67 pic.twitter.com/v6PJgyyrPq— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) July 18, 2023
Demonstrating at the train station
Transportation Minister Miri Regev warned of the danger of demonstrating at train station platforms: "The protest may not only lead to serious harm to the traveling public but will also pose a real danger to the protesters' safety and well-being." Israel Railway platforms where demonstrations were expected include Haifa, Herzliya, Beersheba, and Tel Aviv HaShalom.
Protests took place in Haifa as well on Tuesday morning, with many women at the scene dressing up as characters from The Handmaid's Tale. Protesters also blocked Sokolov interchange near Kafr Saba.
Protests against Rabbinical courts throughout the country, politician's comments
Demonstrations in front of rabbinical courts have also taken place throughout the country the same day, with protests happening in front of the courts in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Ashdod, Petah Tikva, and Rehovot.
Labor Party leader Merav Michaeli wrote in response: "Do the rabbinical judges feel under siege when the protesters block their entrance for half an hour? Now try to imagine how a woman feels when you block her freedom for years."
Further protests planned as judicial reform moves forward
Further protest measures are planned throughout the week as the judicial reform moves forward.
The protest headquarters of the Druze sector announced that it would hold a protest at the entrance to Usifiyeh on Tuesday evening in solidarity with the "Day of Resistance" and to demand equal rights for Druze citizens.
"The right-wing governments have hurt us to no end in the country's democratic era, and we will be the first to be hurt the day Israel becomes a dictatorship," said Dr. Amir Khnifess, the chairman of The Institute for Druze Studies. "Most members of the community identify with the struggle of the liberal democratic camp that is leading an uncompromising battle for the country's democratic identity. As we fought in the army for the sake of the country, we will fight as civilians without compromise together with the other bodies in order to protect Israeli democracy."
On Tuesday night, a protest march will set off from Democracy Square in Tel Aviv to the Knesset in Jerusalem. The march is set to take four days to complete, with protesters aiming to arrive in Jerusalem ahead of the vote on the reasonableness standard bill.
The Israel Medical Association decided on Tuesday that a protest strike will be held on Wednesday for two hours from 8:30-10:30 a.m.
On Thursday, the Israel Business Forum will set up a protest tent in Jerusalem in a call to bring about the immediate halt of the judicial reform legislation and a return to negotiations.
Rami Beja, chairman of the Freelancers Forum of the Histadrut, warned that if the judicial reform continued he would call for a "tax revolt" and would "throw the ledger in the face of the government."
The Knesset is set to vote on the reasonableness standard bill in its final readings on Sunday, which will make it the first part of the government's planned judicial reform to be passed into law.
In February, the Knesset passed a bill that would alter the makeup of the Judicial Appointments Committee to give the coalition a majority and would ban the High Court of Justice from ruling on Basic Laws in a first reading, although the bill has been waiting since for its final second and third readings.