‘Day of paralysis’ snarls traffic, dozens arrested in judicial reform protests

Demonstrators block highways and roads, blockade entrance to major port with burning tires.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Anti-judicial reform protesters took to the streets of Israel on Thursday morning, in demonstrations aimed at stopping the proposed overhaul to Israel’s legal system, blocking major highways, streets, and ports.

Named the “Day of Paralysis,” organizers said they expect some 500,000 people to join the demonstrations throughout the day.

At least 26 people were arrested just hours after the beginning of the protests, police said.

In the fourth consecutive week of demonstrations aimed at disrupting daily life in the Jewish State, protesters set tires on fire at the Port of Ashdod, blockading the entrance to the critical commercial center.

Despite assurances from police that traffic would not be disrupted, several major highways and roads were illegally blocked by demonstrators.

Thousands of protesters rushed onto Ayalon Highway near the Wingate Institute outside of Netanya, preventing motorists from driving south towards Tel Aviv.

Blockages further north, at the Beit Yanai exit near Caesarea, were also reported.

Hundreds of demonstrators blocked the Raanana, Kfar HaYarok, and Kfar Saba junctions in central Israel.

Within Tel Aviv, major roads including Kaplan Street were blocked by demonstrators.

Protesters rallied outside of the homes of coalition lawmakers, including Education Minister Yoav Kisch (Likud) in Ramat Gan and Aryeh Deri (Shas) in Jerusalem.

As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to fly to the U.K. on Thursday afternoon, demonstrators are expected to use car convoys to create traffic jams around the airport.

Activists also displayed a giant copy of Israel’s Declaration of Independence and Israeli flags on the walls of the Old City in Jerusalem.

On Thursday evening, mass demonstrations are expected to take place in Bnei Brak, an ultra-Orthodox city outside of Tel Aviv.

Protesters said they plan to demonstrate in front of the home of United Torah Judaism head Moshe Gafni. Last week, protesters in Bnei Brak set up a mock army recruitment station, in protest of the blanket exemptions from military service granted to the ultra-Orthodox community.