Yair Lapid at the left-wing protest
Yair Lapid at the left-wing protestצילום: איתמר כרמון - חדשות כל העולם

Roughly sixty thousand demonstrators gathered in central Jerusalem Monday afternoon to protest against the Netanyahu government’s judicial reform plan.

The demonstrators rallied outside of the Knesset, leading to heavy traffic and packed light rail trains in the center of the capital.

The police department has deployed more than 500 officers to secure the event.

Smaller demonstrations were also reported across the country, with hundreds of protesters gathering outside of Tiberias and smaller gatherings in Haifa and Kiryat Shemona in northern Israel.

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) addressed the Jerusalem rally, vowing that the struggle against the judicial reform plan will not let up until it has achieved its goals.

“What they are hearing from hear – from this place – is not the voice of despair, but the voice of hope. That is what makes them so afraid.”

“I want to tell you what is happening right now in the Knesset building, across the wall and the fence and past the guards…I want you to know: They are hearing us.”

“I’ve lost battles, but never wars. I wasn’t silent, and they heard my voice. We will fight in the streets, we will fight there in that building – we will fight until we are victorious.”

Erel Margalit, chairman of Jerusalem Venture Partners and Margalit Startup City, led a march of hi-tech leaders and startups from their headquarters in Jerusalem to join the mass protest.

“We are at a dramatic moment in the history of Israel where all of us that are for democracy in the hi-tech industry and around Israel, need to stand up and say to this government: No!" said Margalit.

"You are seeing millions of Israelis rise up in a clear demonstration, because they are saying no to the attempt of Netanyahu and his gang to change the system of this government from democracy to something that looks much more like a dictatorship."

"Over the last 25 years, we built the innovation economy of this country. We reached not only Tel Aviv, but also secular and haredim, Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem; we brought together the Kibbutzim and the city in the Galilee with the Foodtech Center; Beer Sheva in the south with the thriving Cyber Center; and Haifa – where we brought Jews and Arabs together around the theme of digital health."

"But as much as we are builders - we know how to fight back. And this battle is the battle for democracy which is the most important battle of our lives.”

The Knesset's Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee convened earlier Monday to debate the judicial reform package.

During the stormy committee hearing, 14 Opposition MKs were ejected after the began shouting at committee chairman MK Simcha Rothman (Religious Zionist Party).