Jerusalem, Israel – Over 500,000 Israelis took to the streets on Thursday to protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul, making it one of the biggest-ever demonstrations in the country’s history.
Organizers had called for protesters to “turn up the heat” and they certainly did. The rallies were estimated to have drawn over 300,000 people, according to The Times of Israel. This was the 10th week of protests against Netanyahu’s proposed changes to the justice system, which many fear would enable him to evade prosecution in his ongoing corruption cases.
Protesters waved signs with slogans such as “Netanyahu, go home” and “Israel deserves a leader without corruption.” Many also expressed their anger towards the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis.
The demonstrations were mostly peaceful, although there were a few clashes between protesters and police in some areas. Overall, police reported that the protests remained non-violent and no arrests were made.
Netanyahu has dismissed the protests as “left-wing anarchists” and has accused the media of exaggerating the size of the demonstrations. However, opposition leaders praised the protesters for their perseverance and commitment to democracy.
“This is a historic moment for Israel,” said Yair Lapid, leader of the opposition Yesh Atid party. “The people are telling Netanyahu that they have had enough of his corruption and his attempts to dismantle the justice system. We will continue to stand with them until he hears their message loud and clear.”
The protests are set to continue in the coming weeks, with organizers calling for even more people to join their cause. This is an important moment for Israel, as it grapples with a leadership crisis at a time when the country is facing numerous challenges.