Violence reported at Israeli protest rally against judicial overhaul


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Israelis protest against the Israeli government's planned judicial overhaul in Tel Aviv on March 18, 2023.
Gili Yaari/Flash90Israelis protest against the Israeli government's planned judicial overhaul in Tel Aviv on March 18, 2023.

Demonstrations in more than 100 towns and cities, including Haifa, Jerusalem and Be'er Sheva

Israelis packed city streets on Saturday in nationwide demonstrations now in their 11th week against plans by the right-wing government to curb the High Court's powers, which critics see as a potential impingement on judicial independence.

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In Tel Aviv's Dizengoff square, thousands of demonstrators waved the blue and white Israeli flag of Israel, as well as the rainbow flag of the LGBTQ community. Demonstrators blocked roads as they set off on a march through the heart of Israel's liberal metropolis. "Saving Democracy!" read one banner held aloft by the crowd.

Several clashes were recorded between protesters and right-wing supporters of the government across the country who staged counterprotests, with some devolving into violence and resulting in several arrests. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who says his aim is to balance out branches of government, wields a parliamentary majority along with his religious-nationalist coalition allies but his planned judicial overhaul has sparked concern at home and abroad.

As the changes head toward ratification, the protests have escalated, affecting the economy and extending to a threat by some military reservists not to heed call-up orders.

President Isaac Herzog appealed for the overhaul to be postponed and presented an alternative plan to the changes on Wednesday which was swiftly rejected by the prime minister.

Netanyahu, who returned to office for a sixth term in late December, branded the protesters as "anarchists" and said the demonstrations are aimed at toppling him.

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