Israel: Violent Crackdown on Protest by Opponents of Judicial Reform
Protesters and police clash in Tel Aviv.
Police clashed with protesters in Tel Aviv on Wednesday against government-led judicial reform they deem undemocratic, while parliament passed two controversial new bills for preliminary reading. p>
During a protest in Tel Aviv on Wednesday against the reform, in which several streets and lanes were blocked, police used water cannons and stun grenades, AFP journalists found.
Mounted police also tried to disperse the crowd. In a statement, police said they had arrested 39 people for disturbing public order.
Eleven injured protesters were treated at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, the spokesman for this establishment told AFP.
I am here for democracy, for human rights and for justice, Johann Kanal, a 39-year-old protester, told AFP.
“We block all intersections, we stop traffic all over the country in the hope that the current government understands that we are very serious and that we will do everything in our power to change the path he is on.
— Dina Niron, 51-year-old lawyer from Tel Aviv
The right to demonstrate is not the right to block the country, reacted Wednesday evening Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during a press conference in Jerusalem.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
According to him, the demonstrators have crossed a red line. A sovereign country cannot tolerate anarchy, he added.
He had given his support to the police earlier on Wednesday.
This new demonstration comes as the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) meeting on the same day in plenary session adopted a preliminary reading of a new law as part of the justice reform, announced in early January by the government that Benyamin Netanyahu formed in December with far-right parties and ultra-Orthodox Jewish formations.
The deputies adopted by 62 votes against 20 out of the 120 in Parliament, a bill which aims to limit the possibilities of dismissal of a prime minister.
This will only be possible if at least 90 MPs support it and only in case of physical or mental incapacity.
According to critics of the reform, it aims to reduce the influence of the judiciary in favor of political power, threatening the balance of power and the democratic character of the State of Israel.
But Mr. Netanyahu and his Minister of Justice Yariv Levin consider it necessary to restore a balance of power between elected officials and the Supreme Court, which the Prime Minister and its allies consider it politicized.
Yariv Levin (right) when he was acting Speaker of Parliament before he was appointed Minister of Justice in Netanyahu's government
MPs also adopted a preliminary reading of a bill aimed at imposing the death penalty on terrorists, by 55 MPs against 9.
Capital punishment for terrorists has long been called for by some far-right MPs, but it has never found enough support to become law.
The text would however have little chance of being adopted in Israel –7 where the death penalty has only been applied once by justice against the Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1962 – ultra-Orthodox parties being inclined, for religious reasons, to vote against it.
The Israeli army killed a Palestinian in a raid near Jericho in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry said on Wednesday.
Israeli forces confirmed they carried out an operation in the area, where an American-Israeli motorist was killed on Monday, and shot two people who were fleeing after entering the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp.
< p class="e-p">Mahmoud Jamal Hassan Hamdan, 22, died of serious injuries inflicted by bullets fired by the occupier [Israel, Ed], according to a statement from the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
Since the beginning of the year, 64 Palestinian adults and children, activists and civilians have been killed. Thirteen Israeli adults and children, including members of the security forces and civilians, and one Ukrainian civilian were killed during the same period, according to an AFP tally based on official sources from both sides. /p>