Huge Protests, Ex-Officials, Reservists Pressure Netanyahu

Judicial overhaul heads toward vote Monday in parliament
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 22, 2023 3:30 PM CDT
Huge Protests, Ex-Officials, Reservists Pressure Netanyahu
Demonstrators march along Highway 1 on their way to Jerusalem near Moshav Shoresh in Israel on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

Tens of thousands of protesters marched into Jerusalem on Saturday evening, and hundreds of thousands of Israelis took to the streets in Tel Aviv and other cities in a last-ditch show of force aimed at blocking Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's contentious judicial overhaul. Also Saturday, more than 100 of Israel's former security chiefs signed a letter pleading with the Israeli premier to halt the legislation, and thousands of additional military reservists said they would no longer report for duty in protest of the plan, the AP reports.

In scorching heat that reached 91 degrees Fahrenheit, the procession into Jerusalem turned the city's main entrance into a sea of blue-and-white Israeli flags as marchers completed the last leg of a four-day, 45-mile trek from Tel Aviv to Israel's parliament. The marchers were welcomed to Jerusalem by throngs of cheering protesters before they set up camp in rows of small white tents outside the Knesset ahead of the parliament's expected vote Monday. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands flooded the streets of the coastal city of Tel Aviv, the country's business and cultural capital, as well as in Beersheba, Haifa and Netanya.

The proposal has drawn harsh criticism from business and medical leaders, and a fast-rising number of military reservists in key units have said they will stop reporting for duty if the plan passes, raising concern that the country's security interests could be threatened. Another 10,000 reservists announced they were suspending duty on Saturday night, according to Brothers in Arms, a protest group representing retired soldiers. And more than 100 top former security chiefs, including retired military commanders, police commissioners, and heads of intelligence agencies joined those calls on Saturday, signing a letter to Netanyahu blaming him for compromising the military and urging him to halt the legislation. The signatories included Ehud Barak, a former prime minister, and Moshe Yaalon, a former army chief and defense minister.

(More Israel stories.)

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