Thousands of demonstrators across Israel came out again on Saturday (March 18th) to protest a controversial judicial system bill backed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This is the 11th consecutive week of protest.

In Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Square, thousands of people waved blue and white flags, in the colors of Israel, as well as the rainbow flag of the LGBT+ community, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.

The crowd then marched cutting off car traffic in the city centre, chanting slogans such as "Save democracy!"

"Worried that (the country) will become a dictatorship"

"I am worried, not for myself but for my daughters and grandchildren (...) we want Israel to remain democratic and liberal, Jewish of course, but liberal, and we are very worried that (the country) will become a dictatorship," Naama Mazor, 64, a pensioner who came from the city of Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv, told AFP.

"We are here to protest to the end, and we hope it will end well," she added.

Sagiv Galan, 46, said the government was "trying to destroy civil rights, women's rights, LGBT+ rights and everything democracy is fighting for."

According to local media, protests took place in more than 100 other cities and towns, including Haifa (north), Jerusalem and Beersheba (south).

This is the 11th consecutive week of protests against the proposed reform, announced in early January, which includes the introduction of a "derogation" clause allowing Parliament to overturn a Supreme Court decision by a simple majority.

This reform aims to increase the power of elected officials over that of magistrates. According to critics, it jeopardizes the democratic character of the State of Israel and could help quash a possible conviction of Benjamin Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption in several cases.

Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies believe the reform is necessary to restore a balanced balance of power between elected officials and the Supreme Court, which they consider politicized. Several provisions have already been adopted at first reading in Parliament.

With AFP

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