Hundreds block Tel Aviv highway in protest against new government

Protesters gathered in front of the Knesset earlier in the day for a similar protest.

Demonstrators block Ayalon Highway, December 29, 2022 (Credit: Avshalom Sassoni/Maariv)

Hundreds of protesters gathered near the government offices in Tel Aviv on Thursday evening to protest against the anti-LGBTQ+ stances of the new government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

For a little over an hour, the demonstrators blocked the intersection next to Azrieli Center and then moved to block the Ayalon Highway, preventing traffic from passing in both directions.

Shay Bramson, chairman of the Havruta organization for religious LGBTQ+ men, stated "We came to say today that there is no legitimacy to delegitimize our community, even if you are members of the government. We cannot be pushed outside the fence. Judaism is also ours, and it is not a religion of hatred, ostracism and discrimination."

 A man wearing a pride Kippah stands with other LGBTQ+ protesters demonstrating against the new Israeli government, December 29, 2022 (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/ MAARIV) A man wearing a pride Kippah stands with other LGBTQ+ protesters demonstrating against the new Israeli government, December 29, 2022 (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/ MAARIV)

Hundreds protest outside Knesset during swearing-in ceremony

Hundreds of people gathered in protest on Thursday morning outside the Knesset building as the new government was sworn in with Benjamin Netanyahu at its head. 

"I am an 83-year-old man who fought in Israel's wars; I cannot sit at home and not protest."

Emanuel, a protester

The protesters were waving pride flags and holding signs which read: "Be careful, corruption is contagious." They also sang a number of different chants, including some specifically aimed at newly-appointed National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, whose far-right politics has been under heavy criticism in recent days.

 The police patrol nearby the protestors outside the Knesset building during the swearing-in of the 37th Israeli government on December 29, 2022.  (credit: SHLOMI GABAI/WALLA) The police patrol nearby the protestors outside the Knesset building during the swearing-in of the 37th Israeli government on December 29, 2022. (credit: SHLOMI GABAI/WALLA)

Police were active in the area, preventing skirmishes and separating the protesters from supporters of Netanyahu.

Voices from the crowd

"There some outrageous things going on here," said Emanuel, an 83-year-old protester. "Let's start with the fact that whoever heads the government carries a very heavy burden. The head of the police is a convicted felon, the minister of finance did not serve in the army, the interior minister is also a convicted felon.

"The ultra-Orthodox [community does] not serve in the army and the so-called 'religious Zionists' want to harm Arabs and the LGBTQ+ community. There are two extreme groups here - the hard-leaning religious Zionists on one side and the ultra-Orthodox on the other side. And Netanyahu is looking to them to solve his problems. I am an 83-year-old man who fought in Israel's wars; I cannot sit at home and not protest."

"We will not stand by when a dangerous criminal government promotes a regime that threatens everyone's way of life. It is our duty as citizens to oppose such a government when faced with it."

Former Brig.-Gen. Assaf Agmon

Former Brig.-Gen. Assaf Agmon, one of the leaders of the anti-Netanyahu protests, said before the demonstration began that "this is the time to loudly oppose those who seek to dismantle democracy, the army and the justice system as well as promote racism and segregation. We will not stand by when a dangerous criminal government promotes a regime that threatens everyone's way of life. It is our duty as citizens to oppose such a government when faced with it."

Among the demonstrators were also dozens of people from the organization Women Making Peace. "Listen to the call of the Israeli and Palestinian mothers," they said. "We will not give up until we reach a political agreement. You do not have the right to condemn us and our children to a future of wars and a cycle of bloodshed." 

Merav Michaeli joins the fun

"This huge and amazing gathering here is a testament to the fact that the issue is not fear," explained Labor MK Merav Michaeli as she joined in on the protest, "it's determination."

"We will fight for the State of Israel as it should be - a home for the Jewish people with complete equality of rights and opportunities," Michaeli continued. 

"We will fight from the outside, we will fight from the inside, we will give you strength and we will derive tremendous strength from you to fight outside, inside, until we win and you will. And have no doubt - we will win!"