Three people were injured in Israel after a driver rammed into a crowd of protesters during a rally against the country’s highly controversial judicial reform. Clashes with police have erupted during demonstrations in several cities, resulting in dozens of arrests.
The incident occurred on Monday night near the town of Kfar Saba, where a group of demonstrators had gathered to march against a sweeping judicial overhaul moving through Israel’s parliament, the Knesset. As captured in a video circulating online, a white vehicle accelerated through the crowd and over a small bonfire, causing panic among protesters. Three people were reported to have suffered minor injuries as a result of the incident.
Following the incident, a male suspect in his 20s was arrested by local police. Notably, the suspect was described by Israeli journalist Noga Tarnopolsky as a “West Bank settler.” This incident further escalated the tensions surrounding the judicial reform protests in Israel.
Thousands of Israelis turned out for protests in multiple cities as lawmakers passed the first part of the new judicial reform on Monday. The law, which imposes significant limitations on the Supreme Court’s oversight of government actions, has been the subject of heated debate and controversy since its proposal earlier this year. This has triggered a wave of demonstrations across the country, with citizens expressing concerns about the potential erosion of judicial independence and the rule of law.
As the protests intensified, clashes between protesters and the police occurred in various locations. In both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, police unleashed water cannons on protesters, and at least 34 people were arrested. Ten officers were also reported to have been injured during clashes in Tel Aviv.
Demonstrators went as far as blocking roads and highways to make their voices heard. The Ayalon freeway near Tel Aviv endured hours of obstruction with crowds, fires, and barricades before law enforcement intervention. The Times of Israel reported that even after the obstruction was cleared, many protesters remained in the area, with up to 15,000 individuals estimated to have participated in the protest at its peak.
In another incident during the protests, a security guard fired a handgun into the air during a scuffle with protesters near the Hatzerim Kibbutz in southern Israel. Subsequently, the guard and six others were arrested. These incidents further heightened tensions and underscored the volatile nature of the protests.
In response to the contentious Knesset vote, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a video statement expressing his willingness to renew talks over the reform with his opponents. He sought to reassure critics of the bill, emphasizing that “no side will take over the court.” However, opposition leader Yair Lapid criticized Netanyahu’s statement as mere “lies” and “empty theater,” accusing him of attempting to silence the protests without addressing their underlying concerns.
The ongoing protests in Israel against the judicial reform highlight the deep divisions and growing discontent within the country. As citizens voice their opposition and clash with authorities, the government faces the challenge of finding a resolution that can restore public trust and address the concerns raised by the proposed reform.