Thousands of Israelis protest Netanyahu’s sacking of defense minister

HAIFA, Israel (AA) — Thousands of Israelis took to the streets late Sunday in response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s surprise sacking of his defense minister.

Netanyahu decided to fire Yoav Gallant after Gallant urged the Israeli leader on Saturday to pause the government’s controversial judicial overhaul plan.

According to Haaretz, Israeli protesters blocked Tel Aviv’s Ayalon Highway and other protesters gathered outside Netanyahu’s residence in West Jerusalem.

The news website Walla also reported other protests in Haifa, northern Israel and in the southern city of Beersheba.

Israeli police also announced that they were increasing forces at all stations in the country following mass protests and arrests would be made in cases of “severe violence and vandalism.”

Shortly after Netanyahu fired Gallant, Israel’s Consul General to New York Asaf Zamir resigned, saying he opposed the government’s controversial judicial reform.

Meanwhile, all universities across Israel announced a strike starting Monday over the controversial judicial reform plan.

Protest leaders have also called for an emergency protest in Tel Aviv tonight after the sacking of Israel’s defense minister.

Israel has seen mass protests over the past 12 weeks against plans by the government for judicial reforms, which are seen by the opposition as a power grab in favor of the executive authority.

However, Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, claims that his plan would enhance democracy and restore the balance between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government.

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