Israel: Protesters take to the streets in one of the biggest protests in its history

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Around 200,000 people are believed to have taken to the streets in Tel Aviv.

Hundreds of thousands of Israelis participated in what some say was the largest protest in the country’s history.

Protests against government plans for a radical overhaul of the judiciary have been going on for 10 weeks.

Record numbers of demonstrators appeared in cities such as Haifa, while around 200,000 people are believed to have taken to the streets in Tel Aviv.

Critics say the reforms will undermine democracy.

But Benjamin Netanyahu’s government says the planned changes are good for voters.

An estimated 500,000 pro-democracy protesters took to the streets across the country on Saturday in what Israeli newspaper Haaretz called “the largest demonstration in the country’s history”.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid told a crowd in the southern city of Be’er Sheva that the country was facing “the biggest crisis in its history”.

“The wave of terrorism is hitting us, our economy is collapsing, money is leaving the country. Iran signed a new deal with Saudi Arabia yesterday. But this government is only interested in crushing Israeli democracy,” he said.

A protester in Tel Aviv, Tamir Qaidzabri, told Reuters: “This is not a judicial reform. This is a revolution. [is] I want Israel to be a total dictatorship and for Israel to be a democracy for my children.”

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The issue has caused deep divisions in Israeli society

Protests against judicial reforms have brought tens of thousands of people to the streets.

The issue has caused deep divisions in Israeli society and, notably, has seen reservists – the backbone of Israel’s military – threatening to refuse to serve as a way of showing their opposition.

In an unprecedented move on Monday, dozens of reserve fighter pilots in an elite Israeli air force squadron said they would not report for training. They then changed course and agreed to attend and negotiate with their commanders.

On Thursday, protesters blocked roads and tried to prevent Mr Netanyahu from leaving the country. Then he left for Rome.

The government has stood firm in the face of the uproar, saying the protests are being fueled by political opponents.

Critics say the planned reforms, which are already moving through parliament, could politicize the judiciary and lead to an authoritarian government.

Mr Netanyahu says the reforms are designed to prevent the courts from overstepping their powers and were voted for by the Israeli people in the last election.

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WATCH: Protesters flood the streets of Tel Aviv this week

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