Israeli police violently suppress protest against judicial reform


TEL AVIV — Israeli police on Wednesday launched a forceful crackdown on thousands of protesters marching along a central highway in Tel Aviv demanding a halt to a rapidly advancing judicial overhaul.

Police threw hundreds of stun grenades, fired water cannons and arrested at least 40 people in response to Wednesday’s ‘Day of Disruption’, when flag-waving Israelis flooded streets and blocked major arteries in dozens of locations across the country.

Eleven Israelis were hospitalized with injuries sustained in the violent confrontation with police, which escalated after protesters broke through a barricade shouting, “Shame! Officers, many on horseback, rushed to disperse the crowd, sometimes appearing to use indiscriminate force.

Three of the injured were operated on, including a man who lost his ear after being hit by a stun grenade. Such police tactics are rarely seen inside Israel and are more reminiscent of Israeli military operations in the West Bank, where soldiers often clash with Palestinian civilians.

Wednesday’s escalation came after two months of anti-government protests in which tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Tel Aviv’s financial hub, claiming that the judicial overhaul led by the new right-wing government of the country aims to weaken the Supreme Court, free Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from his ongoing corruption trial and remove legal protections for minorities.

As protesters vowed to continue their protests, far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir warned he would use “all available means” at his disposal.

“The right to protest is not the right to commit anarchy,” he said.

“I fully support National Security Minister Ben Gvir, the police commission and Israel Police officers, who are working against lawbreakers who disrupt the daily lives of Israeli citizens,” Netanyahu said Wednesday.

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