Anti-judicial reform protesters stole a Yom Kippur War-era tank from a memorial site on the Golan Heights for use in a protest on Thursday.
Police recovered the armored vehicle on a flatbed truck near Kibbutz Gadot, just west of the Golan Heights. It had been taken by former soldiers who fought in the 1973 war and intended to use it as a prop in the protests against the government’s legal reform program.
The tank was draped with a large replica of Israel’s Declaration of Independence, which was signed by the former IDF soldiers. They also spray-painted the word “Democracy” on the side of the tank.
A common theme at ongoing protests against the reforms is that they will bring about the “end of democracy.”
Matan Peleg, CEO of Im Tirtzu, a Zionist NGO, said, “The Israel Police must act immediately and file charges against those who stole military equipment. The theft of the tank is a direct result of the incitement of Aharon Barak who likened the legal reform to a revolution of tanks.”
Peleg referred to comments made by former Supreme Court President Barak, who compared Minister of Justice Yariv Levin’s legal reform package to a “coup with tanks,” in interviews with Hebrew media in early January.
Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid last month called the government’s proposed judicial overhaul an “extreme regime change” and vowed to continue fighting in streets across the country in “a war over our home.”’
Similarly, National Unity Party leader Benny Gantz has said: “If you [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] continue the way you are going, the responsibility for the civil war that is brewing in Israeli society will be on you.”
In response, Netanyahu has accused his political opponents of “planting the seeds of disaster” by encouraging a public rebellion against a democratically-elected government.
For his part, Barak is widely credited by Israel’s right wing with engineering a “judicial revolution” in the 1990s that resulted in the Supreme Court arrogating powers beyond its purview. The Netanyahu-led government says its reforms are meant to fix the changes wrought by Barak.