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Israelis Are Taking to the Streets Because Our House Is on Fire

We rushed out to the street in pajamas, the kids in our hands. We ran out to the street as if our house was on fire, because we knew that our house really was on fire. Our democracy was set in flames by our prime minister.

On Saturday night, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant urged PM Benjamin Netanyahu to suspend the judicial overhaul, “For the sake of the security of Israel.” Many of us hoped that this call, coming from the mouth of his own party member, would persuade Netanyahu to stop his attacks on the legal system, to pause and consider his actions. But Netanyahu dismissed Gallant, just as he dismissed Nobel prize winners, economy professors, tech professionals, medical researchers, and everyone else who begged him to reconsider his plan. On Sunday, less than 24 hours after his announcement, Gallant was fired.

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Netanyahu was brutal, because he wanted to make sure that no other Likud member would dare to challenge him again. The timing was well planned—9:30pm, the end of the day, long after the evening news. He didn’t see it coming, and to be honest, we didn’t either.

Read More: Israelis Are Waking up to the Threat From Netanyahu’s Government

When we rushed out of the house, a few minutes after the news came out, we had no idea that there would be thousands of us. We assumed that the chilly night and the late hour—and the general exhaustion after almost three months of ongoing protests—would keep most people home. But as we rushed to the street in pajamas, we saw our neighbors standing there with us. And when we cried out “Shame!”, we heard the rage in the entire country.

As we blocked the main junction in Tel Aviv, we saw the photos from other parts of the country—Jerusalem, Haifa, Beersheba. My colleagues at Shalvata Mental Health Hospital kept posting new pictures, urging each other to take to the streets. It seemed like no one was going to work tomorrow.

Read More: Why Netanyahu Faces His Biggest Political Challenge Yet

I am writing these words at 3 a.m., Israel time, after seeing the streets fill with spontaneous protesters, marching, shouting, singing, blocking the roads. It was a frightening night, knowing how delicate the line is between protest and chaos. And yet, at the same time, it was one of the most beautiful nights in the history of this country.

But what about tomorrow? As I write this, I hope tomorrow will be a day of reconciliation in the Israeli society, the day in which we finally start to collect the pieces of our ruined house. But another option exists, and it’s a scary one. Only time will tell if tonight was the end of this radical push, or the beginning of a very dark era.

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