update deskIsrael News

Regev warns of ‘harsh’ response if protesters block Ben-Gurion

"It is time to restore order and stop disrupting the lives of citizens,” the transport minister said.

Israelis protest at Ben-Gurion Airport against the judicial reform initiative, March 9, 2023. Photo by Erik Marmor/Flash90.
Israelis protest at Ben-Gurion Airport against the judicial reform initiative, March 9, 2023. Photo by Erik Marmor/Flash90.

Opponents of judicial reform should expect a “harsh” response if they disrupt traffic at Ben-Gurion International Airport on Monday, Israeli Transport Minister Miri Regev says.

The leaders of the protest movement against the coalition’s judicial reform initiative, which has restarted in the Knesset, are vowing a return to the disruptive demonstrations that took place earlier this year. At a press conference on Tuesday, they announced plans to blockade the roads leading to the country’s main international gateway.

“The anarchists want to take the citizens of the country as hostages, lay siege to the national airport and disrupt scheduled flights,” Regev posted to her Twitter account.

“What are citizens who want to enjoy themselves abroad guilty of? Those who saved money for a family vacation and/or business owners who go to work. I am in favor of freedom of speech and demonstrations, but I oppose those who break the law and disturb the peace,” Regev said.

“I will not accept this reality and the way in which they are harassing and disrupting an entire country. It is time to restore order and stop disrupting the lives of citizens,” the minister continued.

Regev said that on Tuesday she contacted National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, “and clarified to them that this time it will not pass in silence.

“I expect and demand that those who harm the citizens of the entire country be dealt with harshly,” she said.

Tourism Minister Haim Katz also sent a letter to Ben-Gvir and Baharav-Miara calling to prevent disruptions to traffic at Ben-Gurion Airport on Monday.

Israelis protest against the planned judicial reforms at Ben-Gurion Airport, March 15, 2023. Photo by Erik Marmor/Flash90.

“The right to demonstrate and protest is sacrosanct. At the same time, blocking the main entry and exit gate to the country is a disproportionate step that is expected to seriously damage the freedom of movement of the Israeli public and tourists who wish to enter or leave the country,” the tourism minister said.

“Use all the means at your disposal and prevent the expected damage,” Katz urged.

Air force reservists threaten

A group of more than 100 Israel Air Force reservists published an open letter on Wednesday threatening to not report for duty unless the government puts a halt to proposed judicial reform legislation.

“We are announcing today that if the bill to abolish the cause of reasonableness, or any other bill that is part of the legal reform, passes third [and final] Knesset readings, we will be forced to immediately stop our volunteering for reserve service,” the letter states.

The coalition hopes to pass a bill by the end of the Knesset session on July 30 that would preclude courts and government legal advisers from canceling government decisions based on the grounds of “unreasonableness,” without any other basis.

IDF officials said on Tuesday that reservists who refuse to show up for duty to protest the government’s judicial reform initiative will be disciplined, while also clarifying that no action would be taken against those who merely threaten to not show up for duty.

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