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‘Disruption Day’ protests begin despite pause in judicial reform legislation

Protest leaders fear losing momentum

Israelis dressed as characters from The Handmaid's Tale television show protest against the Israeli government's planned judicial overhaul, outside the Rabbinical Court of Tel Aviv, May 4, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90

Protests against the Israeli government's judicial reform agenda are set to take place on Thursday. 

"Day of Disruption" protestors will reportedly participate in acts of civil disobedience, such as blocking highways and intersections throughout the nation. Protest leaders indicated they will try to block one of Israel's busiest thoroughfares, Ayalon Highway, which runs through Tel Aviv. 

According to reports, "Disruption Day" demonstrations will focus on the theme of "equality." 

Government opposition leaders highlighted the coalition's plans for a blanket exemption of military service by ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students as unequal treatment. Events during the protests will also focus on equal rights for women, as well as Arab and Druze communities and other minorities, including the LGBTQ community. 

Women’s protest groups said they will demonstrate outside state rabbinical courts to protest the rabbinate’s sole authority in the area of marriage and divorce. 

Previous "Disruption Days" have led to violent clashes between protestors and police, with several key protest leaders being arrested. 

While the judicial reform legislation has been suspended to facilitate negotiations between the coalition and opposition, protest leaders like Moshe Radman insist that renewed civil disobedience is necessary. 

Opponents to the legislation fear the coalition could resume legislation at any time and is seeking to reinvigorate its fight against the government's judicial reforms, and not risk losing momentum. 

“Levin, as well as David Amsalem [a justice ministry] and others have said they intend to pass their reforms if they don’t get the agreements they want from the negotiations at the President’s Residence,” Radman said. 

Despite concerns that the protests may alienate the public, Radman argued that they have been necessary to ensure that the issue would not be ignored.

“It’s not nice to be stuck in traffic jams, it’s not ideal, but this is our way of saying life cannot continue as normal,” Radman explained.

Protests began on Thursday morning, with various demonstrations across the Jewish state. 

One group placed mannequins spattered with fake blood outside the home of National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir to protest the high number of murders in the country this year, in light of his recent vow to ease the process for obtaining a gun permit.

The Brothers-in-Arms reservist group picketed outside the home of an ultra-Orthodox rabbi, protesting the demand for military service exemptions. They held banners which stated: “Without enlistment there is no reconciliation.” 

About 300 people also demonstrated outside the home of Israeli President Isaac Herzog to protest the judicial reform negotiations being conducting under his supervision. Many in the protest movement are against any form of judicial reform, despite the fact that opposition leaders like Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid, and Avigdor Liberman have all called for some form of judicial reform in the last few years. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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