Israeli police arrest 19 protesters in Jerusalem
Protesters gather ahead of Knesset vote on controversial judicial overhaul bill
By Abdelraouf Arnaout
JERUSALEM (AA) - The Israeli police on Monday arrested 19 protesters in West Jerusalem during protests against the controversial judicial reform bills.
Protests were staged around the Knesset (parliament) building in West Jerusalem, where the vote is taking place on the "Limiting Reasonability" bill, one of eight bills being pushed by the government.
"The police continue to work with large forces to maintain public order in the protests in several locations in the Knesset area, and in the face of rioters, some of whom are rioting and disobeying police orders," police said in a statement.
Police further said 15 protesters were arrested in the Knesset area “for violating order, blocking roads, trying to break through police barriers and disobeying police orders."
One of the detainees hit a policeman, the statement added.
“The police arrested a suspect in the assault on (Women’s Advancement) Minister May Golan in a hotel in Jerusalem, and in the morning, three suspects were arrested, who closed the exit door from the house of Minister of Economy Nir Barkat," the statement said.
Three police officers were also hospitalized due to injuries sustained in the protests, the statement added.
The demonstrators raised Israeli flags and chanted slogans against the government.
Lawmakers in the Knesset are debating the judicial overhaul ahead of the vote.
The bill would prevent Israeli courts, including the Supreme Court, from applying what is known as the "standard of reasonableness" to decisions made by elected officials.
The government says the package is meant to restore power to elected officials, but critics argue it is a power grab by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption charges and was released from the hospital earlier in the day after an emergency heart procedure.
The judicial overhaul plan has divided Israel, and there has been unprecedented opposition from different circles, including the military and the business sector.
* Writing by Mahmoud Barakat
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