Thousands of Israelis have once again taken to the streets of the country to protest against the judicial reform promoted by Benjamin Netanyahu's government. In Tel Aviv, demonstrators blocked the Ayalon highway in both directions with stones, metal bars, tyres and bonfires, which led to clashes between citizens and members of the security forces, who tried to disperse the protests.
Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, protesters gathered near the Prime Minister's office, breaking through the fences protecting the building. A demonstration is also planned around the Knesset led by Brothers in Arms, a group of reservists.
These latest protests have coincided with the dismissal of Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, who publicly called for a halt to the controversial legislative process dividing the Hebrew nation. The former Defence Minister also warned that the current demonstrations are damaging national security, as a large number of reservists have stopped serving in protest at the reform.
The outlook in Israel is critical, and President Isaac Herzog has called on the executive to halt the judicial reform "immediately". Following the outbreak of new protests and clashes, Herzog called on political leaders to "put citizens above all else" and to act "responsibly and courageously".
The Israeli president also referred to last night's events, describing them as a "very difficult moment". "The entire nation is absorbed in deep concern. Our security, economy and society are under threat," Herzog said in a statement reported by Israeli media.
For its part, Religious Zionism, a member of the government coalition, has stressed that the reform should not be suspended "in any way", as it would mean "surrendering to violence, anarchy and the tyranny of the minority", according to the party in a statement published by The Jerusalem Post. In this regard, National Security Minister and chairman of Otsma Yehudit (Jewish Power), Itamar Ben-Gvir, has threatened to leave the executive if the controversial reform is suspended, as reported by KAN and Channel 12.
In the midst of this delicate situation, Israel's main workers' union has announced a nationwide labour strike to prevent the reform from going ahead. This will be joined by doctors, universities and start-ups, key companies in the Israeli technology industry. Ben Gurion Airport has also announced the immediate cancellation of flights.
Following the latest developments, the Israeli prime minister was scheduled to address the nation on Monday morning to announce the suspension of the reform, according to Israeli media outlets such as KAN. However, Netanyahu's appearance has been postponed due to pressure from members of the government coalition.
This judicial reform, which has caused a deep rift in Israeli society, would give the executive more control over the choice of Supreme Court judges and would also allow it to overturn court rulings. While a large number of citizens see the reform as a threat to democracy and the separation of powers, there is also a section of society that defends it, as it considers the Supreme Court to be too involved in political life.