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Massive protests continue in Israel over controversial judicial reforms

Israelis packed city streets on Saturday in nationwide demonstrations against plans by the right-wing government to curb the Supreme Court’s powers, which critics see as a threat to judicial independence.

The protests were mostly peaceful, though Reuters witnessed some injuries and arrests among protesters when police moved in against attempts to block traffic.

In what the Israeli daily Haaretz dubbed “the greatest rally in the country’s history,” organizers estimated that up to 500,000 pro-democracy demonstrators flocked to the streets on Saturday.

Israelis took to the streets for the tenth week straight in the largest demonstration in the country's history on Saturday

— (@haaretzcom) March 12, 2023

As the reforms head toward ratification, protests have been escalating. Some military reservists have threatened not to heed call-up orders. President Isaac Herzog has appealed for the overhaul to be postponed and dialogue held.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who wields a parliamentary majority along with his coalition allies, says that his aim is to balance out branches of government. According to Netanyahu, the demonstrations are aimed at toppling him.

Worst crisis in Israeli history

BBC reported that opposition leader Yair Lapid warned protesters in the southern city of Be’er Sheva that the country was facing “the worst crisis in its history”.

“Our economy is failing, terrorism is on the rise, and money is leaving the nation. Iran and Saudi Arabia have struck a new pact. Yet, this administration solely cares about destroying Israeli democracy,” he added.

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