Israelis brave heavy rain for fifth week of protests against judicial reform plans by PM Netanyahu's new government that critics say threaten democratic checks on ministers by the courts.
Tens of thousands of Israelis have gathered for a weekly demonstration against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu government's proposed judicial overhauls, which opponents say threaten Israel's democratic values.
The protesters marched at two locations in the central coastal city of Tel Aviv on Saturday, waving flags and chanting slogans against the justice minister. "Doctors fighting for the life of democracy," read a banner raised by a doctor at the Tel Aviv protest.
The protest is the fifth against the new government, a coalition of ultra-Orthodox and far-right nationalist parties that took office in December.
The government launched proposals to weaken the Supreme Court by giving parliament the power to overturn court decisions with a simple majority vote.
It also wants to give parliament control over the appointment of judges and reduce the independence of legal advisers.
Smaller protests were reported in several Israeli cities.
READ MORE: Tens of thousands of Israelis protest against Netanyahu's judicial overhaul
Tens of thousands of Israelis protest against judicial reform plans by PM Benjamin Netanyahu's new govt that critics say threaten democratic checks on ministers by courts pic.twitter.com/n2zUspbKEp— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) February 4, 2023
Protesters 'came to save their country'
"I'm here tonight protesting against the transition of Israel from a democracy to an autocracy," Dov Levenglick, 48, a software engineer told the Reuters news agency in Tel Aviv.
"It's a disgrace, it shall not stand."
"They want to tear up the judiciary system of Israel, they want to tear up Israeli democracy, and we are here every week in every weather ... to fight against it and to fight for Israeli democracy," Hadar Segal, 35, said.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid joined demonstrations in the coastal city of Haifa, where he said protesters "came to save their country, and we came to protest with them."
Netanyahu has dismissed the protests as a refusal by leftist opponents to accept the results of last November's election, which produced one of the most far-right governments in Israel's history.
READ MORE: Israel Supreme Court orders Netanyahu to remove minister over conviction
Tens of thousands of Israelis hold weekly demonstration against Netanyahu government's proposed judicial overhauls, which opponents say threaten checks on ministers by courts https://t.co/8buK6AGKM9 pic.twitter.com/WI5Nnvpfil— TRT World (@trtworld) February 4, 2023