Tens of thousands of Israelis took to the streets in the ninth week of protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial plans to overhaul the country’s justice system.
Mr NetanyahuThe far-right government is pushing ahead with plans that critics say would weaken the Supreme Court, limit the powers of judges and threaten democratic institutions.
The Prime Minister is currently on trial for corruption, fraud and breach of trust. He and his allies say the proposed changes will curb an unelected judiciary.
The plans were proposed in January, weeks after Mr Netanyahu’s ultra-nationalist coalition was sworn in.
Since then, an increasing number of people have taken to the streets in weekly protests.
The biggest demonstrations on Saturday took place in Tel Aviv, where demonstrators waved flags depicting the prime minister as various dictators. Other protesters waved Palestinian and rainbow flags.
Protests turned violent for the first time this week when Israeli police fired stun grenades and water cannons to protesters who blocked a Tel Aviv highway on Wednesday.
Unite a divided country
It is very visible during the protests that Israelis, from all walks of life, are there: religious and secular, old and young, private sector workers and public sector workers, right and left.
Israel is a very divided country at the moment, but at the same time it is a movement that brings together traditional divisions.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog called for dialogue and compromise. So far, Prime Minister Netanyahu has refused.
The hard right has wanted these reforms for years; now that they are in government, they are unlikely to quit, regardless of the consequences.
There were also scuffles between police and protesters near Netanyahu’s home.
One of the protesters on Saturday, a 53-year-old history teacher, Ronen Cohen, said: “I came to demonstrate against the revolution of the regime, which the Israeli government imposed on us. I hope this huge protest affects and proves that we are not going to give up.”
“There is a great danger that Israel will turn into a dictatorship,” said Ophir Kubitsky, a 68-year-old high school teacher. “We came here to protest again and again until we win.”