Israel is witnessing one of its largest-ever protests.

On Saturday night, hundreds of thousands of Israelis demonstrated against the government’s judicial plans, in what organisers called the largest street protests in Israel’s history.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims the changes will restore balance between the branches of government by limiting the power of the courts.

Opponents claim they endanger democracy.

At one of Saturday’s rallies, opposition leader Yair Lapid said this was Israel’s “greatest crisis”.

Separately, Israeli troops killed three armed Palestinians near the West Bank city of Nablus on Sunday, according to the Israeli army. According to the report, the gunmen opened fire on an Israeli army post.

Palestinian officials have remained silent on the incident. In recent months, there has been a significant increase in violence between Palestinians and Israelis.

On Saturday, protest organisers said as many as 500,000 demonstrators took to the streets across Israel for the 10th consecutive week, in what the Haaretz newspaper called “the largest demonstration in the country’s history”.

Around 200,000 people gathered in Tel Aviv, many of whom carried Israel’s national flag.

The protests, according to a BBC producer in Tel Aviv, were the busiest yet, with a never-ending stream of demonstrators filling the streets until late at night.

Protesters applauded police chief Amichai Eshed as he walked through the rally in uniform.

Mr Netanyahu’s hardline government had previously attempted to remove the district commander, but the country’s solicitor general blocked the move.

The conflict over the position of commander is significant. According to the BBC’s Tom Bateman in Jerusalem, it comes amid predictions of a constitutional crisis in which Israel’s civil service and security forces will be unable to take orders from the government if no compromise is reached on the planned reforms.

A record crowd of 50,000 marched in the northern city of Haifa on Saturday.

Mr Lapid warned in the southern city of Be’er Sheva that the country was facing an unprecedented crisis.

“Terrorism is sweeping the country, our economy is collapsing, and money is fleeing the country. Iran recently signed a new agreement with Saudi Arabia. But this government is only concerned with crushing Israeli democracy “He stated.

Protests in Tel Aviv, Israel, against the Israeli government’s judicial overhaul. 11th of March, 2023
Caption for an image,
The planned reforms have created significant schisms in Israeli society.
The reforms seek to give the elected government decisive influence over the selection of judges while limiting the Supreme Court’s ability to rule against the executive or strike down legislation.

The issue has caused deep divisions in Israeli society, with reservists – the backbone of Israel’s military – threatening to refuse to serve as a form of protest.

In an unprecedented move, dozens of reserve fighter pilots in an elite Israeli Air Force squadron announced last Monday that they would not report for training. They later changed their minds and agreed to meet and talk with their commanders.

Protesters blocked roads and attempted to prevent Mr Netanyahu from leaving the country on Thursday. He later left for Rome.

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

Critics argue that the planned reforms, which are already being debated in parliament, will politicise the judiciary and lead to an authoritarian government.

Mr. Netanyahu claims that the reforms are intended to prevent the courts from exceeding their authority and that the Israeli public supported them in the last election.

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