Israel: Thousands Rally Against Government’s Judicial Plans

Hundreds of thousands of Israelis rallied against the government’s judicial plans on Saturday night, in what organisers said were the biggest street protests in Israel’s history. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the changes – which would curb the power of courts – will restore balance between the branches of government. Opponents say they threaten democracy.

In a separate development, Israeli troops shot dead three armed Palestinians near the West Bank city of Nablus on Sunday, the Israeli army said. It said the gunmen had fired at an Israeli army post. Palestinian officials have not commented on the incident. There has been a marked surge in violence between Palestinians and Israel in recent months.

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”. About 200,000 people turned up in Tel Aviv, many carrying Israel’s national flag.

A BBC producer in Tel Aviv described the protests as the busiest yet, with a non-stop flow of demonstrators packing the streets until late into the night. In remarkable scenes, protesters applauded police chief Amichai Eshed as he walked in uniform through the rally. On Saturday, a record crowd of 50,000 marched in the northern city of Haifa.

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