Ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s flight to Berlin for a state visit, where he will meet with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, protesters are planning to disrupt his trip by blocking roads to Ben-Gurion International Airport.
Thousands of Israelis protesting against the government’s judicial reforms are expected to demonstrate in and around the airport on Wednesday. They plan to block the roads to the airport, but said they will not disrupt train operations.
“Netanyahu will encounter us at every corner, flight or conference that he goes to,” the organizers of the protests said in a statement. “We will not allow him to destroy the dream of generations, and the Zionist vision and turn the State of Israel into a dictatorship.”
Veterans of the famous Operation Entebbe, an Israeli Defense Forces rescue mission in Uganda, led by Netanyahu’s late brother Yoni Netanyahu in 1976, also said they would join the protest.
“Almost 50 years after that operation, today we attack an airport again, democratically and non-violently, with the aim of freeing a prime minister kidnapped by extremists and with him an entire country rushing towards a dangerous coup d'état,” the protest organizers said. “Then we embarked on Operation Jonathan, today we embark on Operation Benjamin – and free Netanyahu from his kidnappers.”
Opposition leader Yair Lapid said he supports the protesters going to the airport, affirming that the government needs to stop the legislation.
“The prime minister’s convoy should stop on the way to the Knesset to stop this legislation. The people are falling apart because of the madness of the government. If they continue to legislate, what will happen? Will we get a proposal [for compromise] that will not be enacted? This is an attempt at non-stop misrepresentation by the government,” he said. “If they turn the committee for appointing judges into a committee for appointing cronies, we will really be at the end of democracy.”
Last Thursday, ahead of Netanyahu’s state visit to Italy, activists staged a similar protest in and around the airport. The protests did not succeed in stopping Netanyahu’s visit from going forward, as he and his wife, Sara, flew to the airport from Jerusalem by helicopter.
In addition to the planned demonstrations, 1,000 Israeli authors, academics and artists against the judicial reforms wrote a letter to the German ambassador on Tuesday asking that Germany withdraw Netanyahu’s invitation.
The letter stated that Israel is facing the largest crisis in its history and that Netanyahu is turning the country into a “theocratic dictatorship.”
It was signed by professors and academics from a wide array of Israeli institutions, including the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, the Weizmann Institute of Science, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University. It was also signed by authors and artists, including David Grossman, Dorit Rabinyan and Oscar-nominated film director Uri Barbash.
“In the face of Mr. Netanyahu’s dangerous and destructive leadership, and in light of a vast democratic civilian resistance against the destruction of state institutions by undemocratic law-making, we are asking that Germany and Great Britain swiftly announce to the defendant Netanyahu that his planned state visits to your countries are canceled. If these visits go ahead as planned, a dark shadow will hang over them,” the signatories wrote.
Netanyahu is expected to visit Great Britain in an upcoming trip, as well.
The prime minister is expected to be met with Israeli protesters in Germany, too, as Israeli expats in Berlin said they are organizing a large demonstration against him.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.