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Israel: Demonstrators take to the streets in one of the largest protests in its history

Israel: Demonstrators take to the streets in one of the largest protests in its history

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It is believed that about 200 thousand took to the streets of Tel Aviv.

Hundreds of thousands of Israelis took part in what some described as the largest protest in the country’s history.

Protests against government plans to radically reform the judicial system have continued for 10 weeks.

A record number of demonstrators demonstrated in cities such as Haifa, while some 200,000 are believed to have taken to the streets in Tel Aviv.

Critics say the reforms will undermine democracy.

But Benjamin Netanyahu’s government says the planned changes are better for voters.

Organizers said up to 500,000 pro-democracy demonstrators took to the streets across the country on Saturday, in what Israel’s Haaretz newspaper described as “the largest demonstration in the country’s history”.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid told the crowd in the southern city of Beersheba that the country was facing “the biggest crisis in its history”.

“A wave of terrorism is hitting us, our economy is collapsing, money is fleeing the country. Yesterday Iran signed a new agreement with Saudi Arabia. But the only thing this government cares about is crushing Israeli democracy,” he said.

“This is not judicial reform. It is a revolution,” Tamer Gatesabri, a protester in Tel Aviv, told Reuters [is] He made Israel go into a complete dictatorship and I want Israel to remain a democracy for my children.”

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This issue created deep divisions in Israeli society

The reforms aim to give the elected government decisive influence over the selection of judges and to limit the ability of the Supreme Court to rule against the executive branch or to nullify legislation.

The issue caused deep divisions in Israeli society and, notably, saw reservists – the backbone of the Israeli military – threaten to refuse to act as a way to show their opposition.

On Monday, in an unprecedented move, dozens of reserve pilots in the Israeli Air Force’s elite squadron said they would not show up for training. They later reversed course and agreed to come and hold talks with their leaders.

On Thursday, protesters blocked roads and tried to prevent Mr. Netanyahu from traveling from the country. Later moved to Rome.

The government has stood firm in the face of the uproar, claiming that the protests are fueled by political opponents.

Critics say the planned reforms, which are already making their way through parliament, will politicize the judiciary and could lead to an authoritarian government.

Netanyahu says the reforms are meant to prevent the courts from overreaching their powers and that the Israeli public voted for them in the last elections.

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WATCH: Protesters are pouring into the streets of Tel Aviv this week