Protest against judicial reform > Yuval Talya Nehemia, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tens of thousands of demonstrators faced pouring rain on Saturday to gather in Tel Aviv’s Habima Square for protests against Israel’s new hard-right government and its plans for sweeping judicial reforms.

Police estimated a turnout of some 80,000 people rallied in the square and surrounding streets, with many Israelis travelling on hired buses from around the country.
Smaller protests also took place in Jerusalem and Haifa.

The large crowd carried umbrellas, Israeli flags and placards denouncing the government’s reform plans.

“We are faithful to the Declaration of Independence”, a widely distributed sticker read, while a large banner stated “Fighting for democracy”.

Despite speculation over possible violence and hardline warnings from national security minister Itamar Ben Gvir, the demonstrations ended largely peacefully, with only sporadic clashes between protestors and police.

The crowd was addressed by centrist National Unity leader Benny Gantz, Labor leader Merav Michaeli, and Arab-Israeli Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas.

Former leader of the opposition Tzipi Livni and former prime minister Ehud Barak also spoke.

This demonstration marked the second week of protests against the government’s plans to curb the independence of the Israeli judiciary by restricting the High Court’s judicial review powers and increasing political control over the appointment of judges.