WATCH: Huge crowds rally against Israeli judicial overhaul for 10th week

WATCH: Huge crowds rally against Israeli judicial overhaul for 10th week

Several have termed the demonstrations as one of the largest in the country's history.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Sunday, March 12, 2023, 11:00 AM IST
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10th week of protests against Israeli judicial overhaul | AFP

Tens of thousands of Israelis took to the streets on Saturday to protest the government's contentious plan to overhaul the judiciary.

Demonstrators turned out in record numbers in cities such as Haifa, with an estimated 200,000 taking to the streets in Tel Aviv.

Several have termed the demonstrations as one of the largest in the country's history.

Protests a weekly occurence

For more than two months, nationwide protests have been a weekly occurrence.

Despite the protests, Israel PM Benjamin  Netanyahu and his allies have promised to move forward with a series of bills that would deprive the Supreme Court of its ability to review legislation and give coalition politicians control over judicial appointments.

The changes, critics say, will destroy the country's system of checks and balances and concentrate power in the hands of the prime minister and his allies.

"We are protesting because if not, it's like compliance and we will never agree to have democracy abolished in this country," said Einat Gival-Levi, a protester. "It's really important that we raise awareness all around the world."

Hundreds of Israeli women's rights activists dressed as characters in the television series, "The Handmaid's Tale," marched to the center of Tel Aviv city to join the main protest.

Changes still being discussed

The proposed changes to the law are still being discussed in Israel's parliament, the Knesset, but as they stand now, they are expected to give politicians more influence in choosing judges and allow parliament to override rulings from the Supreme Court by a simple majority vote, among other modifications.

According to critics, there is a threat to the judiciary's role and the separation of powers.

Netanyahu had to be airlifted

After being blocked from driving to the country's main international airport by throngs of cars and protesters on Thursday, Netanyahu had to be airlifted there for an overseas trip.

The schism has not spared Israel's military, which is facing unprecedented internal opposition.

Netanyahu is motivated by personal grievances

Critics also claim that Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, is motivated by personal grievances and that the overhaul will allow him to avoid prosecution. Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing and claims the legal changes are unrelated to his trial.

The country's secular middle class has largely dominated the protests. Israel's Palestinian minority, which accounts for approximately 20% of the population, has been largely absent, in part due to discrimination in Israel and Israel's treatment of their Palestinian brethren in the West Bank and Gaza.

(With PTI inputs)

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