Mass Protests Erupt after Netanyahu Fires Defense Minister3 min read
On Sunday night and in the early hours of Monday, mass protests were taking place all across Israel after Benjamin Netanyahu fired Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.
The premier made this move a day after the defense minister called on the government to pause its judicial overhaul plans.
The countrywide demonstrations marked the first day of the ‘week of paralysis’ that has been planned against the government.
The protests saw people block the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv and light bonfires. They were also hit by water cannons in Jerusalem, outside the Prime Minister’s Residence.
On Sunday night, after the Prime Minister’s Office announced that Gallant had been removed as defense minister, thousands of people poured into the streets waving Israeli flags.
They gathered in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem, Beersheba and localities across Israel also saw people turn up in smaller numbers.
Protestors in Tel Aviv blocked both ends of the Ayalon Highway and bonfires were lit on the roads. They chanted ‘democracy’ and vowed to stay through the night.
Some protestors also danced and jumped while calling for Netanyahu to leave and claiming they were not afraid.
In Jerusalem, the demonstrators appeared on Gaza Street outside Netanyahu’s home, pushing through barriers and scuffling with the cops.
They then marched to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Knesset, where they called on the premier to resign.
According to a report, there were a total of 600,000 to 700,000 people who were demonstrating across Israel late Sunday, as protests were reported from Eilat in the south to Kiryat Shmona in the north.
Some reports said that hundreds of thousands of people were demonstrating, while others said tens of thousands. By early Monday, there had not been any official estimates provided.
The protests continued for about five hours, from almost 10 p.m. on Sunday night when Gallant’s firing was announced to nearly 4 a.m. on Monday morning.
Firefighting authorities and police officers took action on the Ayalon Highway, as the cleared the debris and metal barriers on the roads and put out the fires.
There were also some clashes between the demonstrators and the police. Mounted police dispersed the protestors and water cannons were also used.
Video footage showed some cops shoving protestors and pushing them to the floor before they physically removed the protestors from the highway.
According to the police, the demonstrators threw stones and other objects, which resulted in three officers getting injured when trying to clear the highway.
Kobi Shabtai, the Police Commissioner, conducted a situational assessment late Sunday with other police leaders at Beit Dagan.
On Sunday, earlier in the evening, protestors had gathered outside Gallant’s home in Moshav Amikan for supporting him.
They called on him to not let other ministers pressurize him into supporting the legislative process. This was before the announcement of his firing.
On Saturday night, the former general had warned that the military was seeing the impact of the deep rift caused by the judicial overhaul plans and urged for a compromise.