Hundreds of Israelis gathered today at Israel’s Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv to voice their opposition to the government’s proposed legal reform, which has sparked widespread controversy. Protesters blew horns, banged drums, and held up signs reading “Democracy will win,” as they blocked the access of vehicles to the airport’s main international arrival and departure terminal.
The demonstrators fear that the proposed overhaul, which aims to grant politicians greater control over the courts, could undermine the country’s democratic values and pave the way for an authoritarian government. Smadar Bonen, a 46-year-old protester, expressed the significance of the demonstration, stating, “We need to show that the protest is not asleep, we are here, we’re awake.”
The weekly rallies against the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who returned to power in December with the support of ultra-Orthodox Jewish and extreme-right allies, have intensified in recent months. Netanyahu had previously announced a “pause” in the reform agenda to engage in discussions with the opposition. However, these talks ultimately failed to produce any agreements, and Netanyahu has since expressed his determination to proceed with the reforms, albeit with certain modifications.
During the airport protest, four individuals were arrested by the police “for violating public order.” Authorities emphasized the importance of maintaining the accessibility of traffic routes in the airport for emergency and rescue personnel. Despite the demonstration, the flight schedule at the airport remained unaffected.
Ruth Regev, a retiree from the city of Ramat Gan, expressed her deep concerns about the government’s plan, emphasizing the critical nature of the current situation for Israeli society and democracy. She stated, “I think this is a critical time, for Israeli society, for Israeli democracy, for my children, for my grandchildren.”
The protest at Ben Gurion airport serves as a strong indication that the opposition to the judicial overhaul in Israel remains steadfast, and citizens are determined to protect the country’s democratic principles. The government’s proposed reforms continue to be a subject of intense debate and contention within Israeli society.