Protests against reforms in Israel cause road and airport closures.

Protesters in Israel have blocked roads and attempted to prevent the prime minister from leaving the country as part of nationwide protests against controversial judicial reforms.

Vehicles blocked access roads to Ben Gurion Airport, from which Benjamin Netanyahu was scheduled to fly to Rome.

The weeks-long protests are among the largest seen in Israel.

Critics say the reforms will undermine democracy; the government says the changes will benefit voters.

Thousands of protesters, many waving Israeli flags and carrying signs with anti-reform slogans, gathered on Tel Aviv’s main roads, causing major traffic disruption.

As the demonstrators passed, a line of police on horseback stood by, with some chanting to the cops, “We’re also here for you,” Haaretz reported.

Meanwhile, convoys of cars began streaming towards the airport early in the morning, causing gridlock at the entrance in an attempt to prevent Mr Netanyahu from leaving for Rome.

The US defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, arrived at the airport on Thursday and was reportedly forced to change his itinerary due to the protests.

In Haifa, students blocked one of the city’s main entrances, while in Jerusalem, hundreds of military reservists demonstrated outside the offices of a pro-reform right-wing think tank.

According to local media, some people used sandbags to block the entrance to the office, and seven reservists were arrested.

In Israel, military service is mandatory, and most men are required to serve in reserve duty every year thereafter, usually until the age of 40.

Protests against judicial reforms have been ongoing for about ten weeks, drawing hundreds of thousands of people to the streets at times.

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 on Monday that they would not report for training. They later changed their minds and agreed to meet and talk with their commanders.

Mr. Netanyahu’s 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *