Mass protests erupt in Israel after Prime Minister Netanyahu fires defence minister for calling for an end to controversial judicial overhaul (Photos/Video)
Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets across Israel after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired his defence minister Yoav Gallant after speaking against the controversial plans by Netanyahu to overhaul the justice system.
In capital city, Jerusalem, police and soldiers used water cannon against demonstrators near Netanyahu’s house.
The reforms include plans that would give the government decisive control over the committee which appoints judges.
The reform would also make it harder for courts to remove a leader deemed unfit for office, which has angered many who consider it to favour Benjamin Netanyahu, who faces an ongoing trial for corruption.
Netanyahu says the reforms are designed to stop the supreme courts from having too much powers and that they were voted for by the public at the last election but the protesters say the reforms will turn Israel into a dictatorship as there will be no check on the powers of the executive and legislative.
Gallant, a former soldier who for weeks has heard from reservists who were unhappy with the proposed law change, spoke out against the law on Saturday, where he said members of the Israeli Defence Forces were angry and disappointed.
Netanyahu – who was out of the country at the time of Gallant’s TV appearance – said on Sunday he no longer had faith in him as defence minister and fired him.
After the news of Gallant’s sack, the protests which have been going on in Israel the last one week, got a new awakening and numbers tripled.
After protesting outside Netanyahu’s home, the demonstrators – many flying Israeli flags and banging pots and pans – then evaded police forces to arrive at Israel’s parliament, the Knesset.
In Tel Aviv, flag-waving protesters blocked one of the main highways for more than two hours, before they were cleared by mounted police and water cannon.
Early on Monday morning, Israel’s President Isaac Herzog took to Twitter to call on the government to halt the reforms.
“For the sake of the unity of the people of Israel, for the sake of responsibility, I call on you to stop the legislative process immediately,” he said on Twitter, adding that “the eyes of all the people of Israel are on you”.
The US also said it was deeply concerned about the developments and called for a compromise.
A White House spokeswoman said; “As the president recently discussed with Prime Minister Netanyahu, democratic values have always been, and must remain, a hallmark of the US-Israel relationship.”
She added that “fundamental changes” to a democratic system should be “pursued with the broadest possible base of popular support”.
“We continue to strongly urge Israeli leaders to find a compromise as soon as possible.”
Gallant and Nethayanhu are members of the same Likud party.
After he was fired, Gallant took to Twitter to reaffirm: “The state of Israel’s security has always been and will always be my life’s mission.”
Israel’s opposition leader Yair Lapid described Gallant’s sacking as “a new low” for the government.
“Netanyahu can fire Gallant, but he can’t fire reality or fire the people of Israel who are fronting up to resist the coalition’s madness,” Lapid added.