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More than 100 towns, cities rise up in 11th week of protests against Netanyahu's 'judicial reforms'

Tens of thousands of protesters rally against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s so-called judicial reforms plan in Tel Aviv, holding an enormous sign that reads "Never surrender," on Saturday, March 18, 2023.

Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in more than 100 towns and cities across the occupied territories for the 11th straight week to blast the so-called judicial reforms proposed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The protests were held on Saturday in the cities of Tel Aviv, Haifa, al-Quds, Ashdod, and Beersheba as well as elsewhere across the occupied territories, Israeli media reported.

In Tel Aviv, the participants converged on the Dizengoff Square, before fanning out and blocking roads across the center of the city.

The demonstration attracted a counter-protest, in which supporters of Netanyahu's cabinet held up banners that read "traitor leftists."

A 57-year-old man was arrested after allegedly driving his car into a group of protesters in the city of Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv, a police spokesperson said, adding that one person had also been hospitalized.

In some cases, police clashed with protesters in Tel Aviv and used water canons to disperse them.

Saturday protests even spread to Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, which have been long considered a political stronghold for Netanyahu's right-wing coalition partners.

The reforms proposed by the premier seek to rob the Israeli regime's Supreme Court of its ability to overrule decisions made by either Netanyahu's extremist cabinet or the Knesset. They also empower the lawmakers to strike down the court's verdicts and give them more sway in the selection committee that appoints the judges.

Addressing protesters in Ashdod, opposition politician Yair Lapid condemned the cabinet for rejecting a compromise that was proposed by the regime's president, Isaac Herzog, on Wednesday.

Staying resolute to implement the changes, Netanyahu dismissed the proposal right away, alleging, "Key sections of the outline he (Herzog) presented only perpetuate the existing situation and do not bring the required balance to the Israeli authorities."

Lapid told the protesters that members of the extremist cabinet "don't want negotiations... They want to run forward with the legislation...," referring to the cabinet's ongoing efforts to rush the reforms through the Knesset.

Faced by Netanyahu's objection, Herzog, warned against a civil war, adding that the prime minister was pushing the occupying regime down a dangerous path.

"Anyone who thinks that a genuine civil war, with human lives, is a line that we could never reach, has no idea what he is talking about," the regime's president said earlier this week.

Netanyahu, who returned to office for a sixth term in late December, has said the demonstrations are aimed at toppling him.

He is on trial in three corruption cases and denies all wrongdoing. Opponents of his proposed reforms have accused Netanyahu of trying to use the reforms to quash possible judgments against him. 

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