Israel marks 75th Independence Day amid divisions, protests

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen during an official inauguration ceremony at the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on Dec. 29, 2022. Benjamin Netanyahu, the longest-serving Israeli leader, returned to power on Thursday as the country's prime minister at the helm of an extreme-right coalition. (JINI via Xinhua)

Israel on Tuesday marked its 75th Independence Day amid protests and political divisions between supporters and opponents of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s contentious plan to overhaul the judiciary.

The celebration began at sundown, with an official torch-lighting ceremony held at the Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. As Netanyahu spoke at the state ceremony for the fallen soldiers at Mount Herzl, protesters rallied outside the site.

Tens of thousands of Israelis rallied in the city of Tel Aviv for what the organizers called an “Independence Party” to protest the overhaul plan. The Tel Aviv police blocked parts of the Ayalon Highway and several main streets.

Over the past few days, Netanyahu and opposition leaders called for putting their differences aside. However, the day was still marked by clashes as bereaved families laid wreaths and lit candles at cemeteries across Israel.

In Beersheba, where hardline National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir spoke, clashes erupted between some bereaved families and the supporters of the judicial reforms.

“Ben-Gvir came here despite repeated calls by bereaved families over the past days, asking him not to do so. It a disgraceful provocation that shows no respect for our fallen sons,” Shaula Levi, a bereaved mother, told Channel 12 TV news.

In the Druze town of Isfiya in northern Israel, protesters prevented Intelligence Minister Gila Gamliel from entering the military cemetery. Gamliel had to leave without delivering her scheduled speech.

The far-right government’s plan to weaken the Supreme Court and overhaul the judicial system has torn apart the Israeli society, sparking mass weekly demonstrations over the past four months.

Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948, but it marks the Independence Day on different dates every year based on the Hebrew calendar. ■

About Famagusta Gazette 9463 Articles
In addition to our Mediterranean perspective, Famagusta Gazette publish extensive coverage of world news, travel and tourism features, and financial information. Follow us on Twitter @FamagustaG