Thousands of protesters came to Tel Aviv's protest hub on Kaplan Street at the end of Tisha B’Av, Israel's fasting day, on Thursday evening. Police prevented protesters from blocking the Ayalon Highway, as has occurred in the past.
Due to increased violence during recent demonstrations, there was a heavy police presence, however, the event ended without major incidents. There was no reported use of police water cannons or mounted officers. Instead, policing was done by officers on foot or motorbikes.
“The Israel Police is apolitical and works for the entire public while maintaining its values,” Israel Police Chief Kobi Shabtai said on Thursday morning,
Protest leaders released a statement emphasizing the non-violent nature of their movement.
“Our protest is a non-violent protest and will remain so throughout. Non-violence is important to achieving our goals. The surest and fastest way is through non-violent, but impolite, civil resistance. The police are our brothers,” the statement said.
Israel's Kan news reported earlier on Thursday that police were preparing for an escalation in violence after Intelligence indicated some protesters could be coming to fight.
“The preparations tonight for the demonstration in Tel Aviv are more massive because after what we saw on Monday, we understand that they are coming to fight the police," a senior police official said.
In a Facebook post, President Isaac Herzog called on both sides of the judicial reform dispute to refrain from violence.
"I appeal to everyone: Even when the pain peaks, we must preserve the boundaries of the dispute and refrain from violence and irreversible measures,” Herzog wrote.
“We must imagine our lives together here – in another 40, 50 and 100 years – and how each action will impact on our children and grandchildren, and on the bridges between us,” he added.
During an interview with “Good Morning America,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the judicial reforms will balance the government.
“There is a middle ground there, and I hope we can achieve it,” he said. “I think [Israel] will be a stronger democracy after some reforms are met.”
The prime minister also said he would continue to work at achieving a consensus on the reforms.
"I'll still try to proceed, if not in consensus with the opposition ... then at least on something that has broad acceptance in the public ... broad national consensus. I'll do my best to do it, and we'll get over it," he said.
Following Netanyahu’s interview, opposition leader Yair Lapid posted to social media accusing the Israeli premier of lying.
“Netanyahu can lie in English, but it is still a lie. He does not have broad public support, he did not want to reach agreements with us even though we tried, the law passed this week is neither small nor minor - it is a violent attack on Israeli democracy,” Lapid wrote.
Netanyahu offered to resume negotiations with the opposition after the Reasonableness Standard Bill passed the final Knesset vote on Monday, however, opposition leaders Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz have not agreed to resume negotiations.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.