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Nearly 200,000 Israelis protest nationwide in first weekend demonstration since passing of controversial law

Amid accusations of police violence, commissioner says police are ‘breakwaters for protests’

Anti-overhaul activists protest the government's judicial reform, in Tel Aviv, July 29, 2023. (Photo: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Over the first weekend since the Reasonableness Standard Law passed, the protest movement shows no sign of weakening as it enters the 30th week of demonstrations. 

According to local Channel 13 news, some 174,000 people gathered at the main protest rally at Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv. 

Following the rally, protesters split into different groups, with some blocking the Ayalon Highway, while others marched on Menachem Begin Road. 

“This week the de facto regime coup began. The eyes of the whole world are on us, the public protesting against the regime coup. We will not allow the coup, and we will continue to demonstrate and fight,” said protest leaders.

They have accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of trying to create a de facto dictatorship by weakening the Supreme Court’s power. 

Netanyahu and his coalition say that the Israeli Supreme Court has overstepped its authority through activist rulings which tend to target right-wing decisions and policies. 

The protest movement has been marked by a strong anti-Netanyahu component since the beginning of the demonstrations in January. 

At Saturday night’s protest, a group of protesters printed out photos of police officers accused of violence against protesters, warning demonstrators to beware of those individuals. An investigation into those responsible for taking photos is currently underway, while the Israel Police released a statement calling "on the public to refrain from posting materials that harm officers and their families."

The decision to investigate the protesters for defamation was decried by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI). 

“There is no basis for harassing protesters for waving signs that tell the truth. Instead of harassing demonstrators and trying to harm freedom of expression, police would be better served ensuring that its officers don’t again employ cruel and sadistic violence,” ACRI’s attorney, Avner Pinchuk, said. 

Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai accused the protesters of making a “field trial” of the officers. 

“The police have become the breakwater on which the protest crashes,” Shabtai said. 

Police have also accused protesters of violent behavior towards officers, especially during the weekly protests in Tel Aviv, and announced they had arrested one protester for public disturbance while clearing the Ayalon Highway. 

The police also arrested a driver who drove his car into protesters who were blocking another road, causing traffic to stop. 

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

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