Mass protest in Israel. Photo: Oren Rozen/CC
Mass protest in Israel. Photo: Oren Rozen/CC

Ellen Kenyon-Peers, Waltham Forest Socialist Party

In the 28th consecutive week of mass protests, on 24 July, Israel’s ultra right-wing coalition passed a judicial reform bill that will give the government greater powers over the legal system and hope to drop fraud charges against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The vote passed by 64 votes to 0, as the opposition refused to take part. The 500,000 demonstrators, some of whom have been attending demos with the support of their capitalist employers, marched largely peacefully on Jerusalem, many camping in tents outside the Knesset (parliament), and others chaining themselves across roads to try and prevent Knesset members from voting.

Police couldn’t stop march

Local news reported that the police, who have received criticism in recent weeks for their use of water cannons, tear gas and excessive physical force to remove protestors, were unable to control marchers who blocked main roads with parked cards and set fire to barricades. Protesters shouted “where were you during Huwara?” at security forces; recalling their failure to stop settlers from attacking the Palestinian town in March. Mounted police and ‘Skunk’ – a weapon which sprays a long-lasting, foul-smelling substance – was unable to deter the thousands assembled late into the night, prompting the use of stun grenades.

Doctors in the Israeli Medical Association will hold a 24-hour protest strike on 25 July. Israel’s largest labour union, the Histadrut, is under pressure from demonstrators to call generalised strike action, as it did on 28 March. Even sections of the capitalist class opposed to the reforms have called on it to act. However, it is necessary for the trade union and workers’ movement to play an independent role, so action by the Histadrut must be to act under its own democratic leadership, and for the interests of the working class, rather than the interests of the capitalists and their judicial system.


10,000 reservists, including military health workers, have withdrawn from service in recent weeks. As the government continues to lose its grip on the Israeli population, the brutality traditionally reserved for Palestinians has been partially reappropriated – in a more restrained form – in an attempt to suppress civil unrest that shows no sign of dissipating. Although the movement has developed around what many Israelis see as an attack on democracy, issues around the cost of groceries, housing and the affordability of a broad education affect much of the population.

To succeed, the movement must takes steps to engage the layer of disillusioned working-class people with demands around these issues to develop into the revolutionary socialist force needed to bring genuine democracy and peace to both sides of the conflict.