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Mass protests in Israel, after the dismissal of the Minister of Defense

Mass protests in Israel, after the dismissal of the Minister of Defense

Tens of thousands of Israelis filled the streets of cities across the country on Sunday evening in a spontaneous display of outrage after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu abruptly fired his defense minister after he defied the Israeli leader's plan to reform the judiciary.

Protesters in Tel Aviv blocked a major highway and lit large bonfires, while police clashed with protesters who gathered outside Mr Netanyahu's home in Jerusalem and at one point broke through the security cordon.

The unrest deepened a months-long crisis over Prime Minister Netanyahu's plan to make sweeping changes to the judicial system, which has sparked mass protests, alarmed business leaders and former security chiefs and raised concerns among the United States and other allies. narrow.

The sacking of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant signaled that the prime minister and his allies will press ahead this week with plans for change. Mr Gallant was the first senior member of the ruling Likud party to speak out against the reform, saying deep divisions were threatening to weaken the military.

But after crowds of protesters flooded the streets late into the night, Likud party ministers began to show a willingness to back down. Culture Minister Micky Zohar, a confidant of Mr. Netanyahu, said the party would support him if he decides to stop changes to the judiciary.

In a brief statement, Mr. Netanyahu's office said late Sunday that the prime minister had fired Mr. Gallant. Prime Minister Netanyahu later tweeted that "we must all stand strong in the face of opposition."

Tens of thousands of Israelis took to the streets in protest after Mr Netanyahu's announcement, blocking Tel Aviv's main artery, turning the Ayalon highway into a sea of ​​white and blue Israeli flags and lighting a huge bonfire in the middle of the road.

Demonstrations took place in Beersheba, Haifa and Jerusalem, where thousands gathered outside Mr Netanyahu's private residence. The police clashed with the protesters and used water pumps to disperse the crowd. Thousands then marched from his residence to the Knesset, the country's parliament.

Israel's consul general in New York said he was resigning over the firing.

The United States said it was deeply concerned by Sunday's events and stressed the urgent need for compromise, repeating calls to protect democratic values.


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