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National uproar after Netanyahu fires Defense Minister Gallant, tens of thousands of Israelis take to the streets for protests

With the nation on edge, Israeli President Herzog calls for stopping legislative process ‘immediately’

Israelis block the Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv during a protest against the Israeli government's planned judicial overhaul, March 26, 2023. (Photo: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Last night, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, protests erupted at various locations across the country. 

In Tel Aviv, thousands poured onto the Ayalon Highway, blocking traffic for hours, waving flags and lighting bonfires. Police used water cannons to disperse protestors in Tel Aviv and in Jerusalem, where crowds had broken through barricades to gather outside the Prime Minister’s residence. 

Israelis block the Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv during a protest against the Israeli government's planned judicial overhaul, March 26, 2023. (Photo: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Labor leaders said they would call for strikes on Monday, including the mayors of several cities and heads of several regional councils who called for a hunger strike. 

Israeli President Isaac Herzog released a statement following the outbreak of protests, stating that “the entire nation is deeply concerned. Security, the economy, society – all are threatened.”

In his statement, Herzog addressed the prime minister and ruling coalition: “The eyes of all the people of Israel are on you. The eyes of the entire Jewish people are on you. The eyes of the whole world are on you.”

“For the sake of unity with the people of Israel, for the sake of the responsibility that is owed, I call on you to stop the legislative process immediately,” Herzog pleaded. “This is not a political moment, this is a moment for leadership and responsibility.” 

Thousands of Israeli protesters rally against the goverment's judicial overhaul bills in Raanana, Mar. 27, 2023. (Photo: Gili Yaari /Flash90)

Following the uproar of Netanyahu’s dismissal of the defense minister, several Likud party and coalition members called on the prime minister to pause the ongoing legislation in order to allow for a better process. 

Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli, who supports the judicial reforms, suggested the coalition consider the proposal by opposition leader Benny Gantz to “sketch out a new roadmap for resuming the legislative process, present it to the public and set the rules of the game ahead of time.” 

Other opposition leaders said Netanyahu’s actions demonstrated that he was acting like a dictator. 

“Instead of listening to [Gallant] and convening the cabinet, Netanyahu chose the path of all dictators – silencing voices,” opposition member Avigdor Liberman said. 

Netanyahu is expected to address the nation later this morning, with his remarks expected to announce Gallant’s replacement or to express something regarding the legislation. 

Netanyahu is coming under increasing pressure, with even some coalition members calling for halting the judicial reforms. 

Earlier this morning, Boaz Ben Tzur, a key member of the prime minister’s legal defense team, announced that he will not be able to represent Netanyahu if the judicial reform legislation passes. 

Ben Tzur is currently representing Netanyahu in “Case 4000,” an investigation to assess whether paperwork was filled out incorrectly in order to favor business dealings for Bezeq owner Shaul Elovitch, in exchange for favorable media coverage on the Walla! News site. Some consider the case to contain the most serious allegations of all three legal cases against the prime minister. 

Despite tensions throughout the nation, the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee met this morning to vote to approve the judicial selection bill for final voting in the Knesset. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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