Protests Break Out In Israel After Netanyahu Fires Defense Minister

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Thousands took to the streets in Israel Sunday after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired a defense minister who criticized a plan to overhaul the country’s justice system.

Yoav Gallant, Israel’s Minister of Defense and a member of Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party, was fired after speaking out against plans to overhaul the justice system in the country. The proposed changes would give Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, more control over Israel’s judiciary system, BBC reported.

“I emphasize that the growing rift in our society penetrates the [Israel Defense Forces] (IDF) and security agencies,” Gallant said, according to Fox News. “I will not allow this. But now, I declare loudly and publicly, for the sake of Israel’s security, for the sake of our sons and daughters – the legislative process should be stopped,” he stated.

Gallant added that the proposed changes constituted “a clear, immediate and tangible danger to the security of the state” and called on Netanyahu to abandon his plans for the overhaul.

Citizens in Israel have already been protesting Netanyahu’s planned overhaul of the justice system for months claiming that the proposed changes arguing, as Gallant did, that they threaten the democratic foundations of the country, CNN reported.  The firing of the defense minister only appeared to galvanize their efforts, with Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stating the unrest in Israel “is in the greatest danger since the Yom Kippur War,” Fox News reported. (RELATED: Israeli Defense Forces Pilots Boycott Training To Protest Netanyahu Judicial Reforms)

“We’re defending the last bit of democracy we have and I can’t go to sleep this way. I can’t do anything until we stop this craziness”, a government employee told BBC News.

In protest of Gallant’s removal, Asaf Zamir resigned from his post as the Consul General of Israel in New York, Fox News reported. His resignation inspired Yair Golan, a member of the left-wing Meretz party and a former deputy chief of staff of the IDF to call on “all representatives of Israel in embassies spread across the globe” to do the same, the outlet stated.

“The dismissal of the Minister of Defense, Yoav [Gallant], just because he warned of a threat to Israel’s security is a new low for an anti-Zionist government that harms national security and ignores the warning of all security officials,” opposition leader Yair Lapid tweeted. “Netanyahu can fire Gallant, but he cannot fire reality and cannot fire the people of Israel who are standing up to the insanity of the coalition.”

For his part, Netanyahu has argued the unelected justices of Israel’s Supreme Court have too much power. “I think we need a strong, independent judiciary. But an independent judiciary doesn’t mean an unbridled judiciary, which is what has happened here, I mean, over the last 25 years,” the prime minister told CNN previously.