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Israeli protesters start 'day of disruption' by blocking military headquarters, stock market

Israeli military reservists and other protesters have initiated a "day of disruption" in areas across central Israel to protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's judicial overhaul.

Protesters in Israel gathered outside Tel Aviv's stock exchange and military headquarters on Tuesday, blocking highways and stalling traffic in the latest demonstration against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Demonstrators, many of them military reservists, created human chains and gathered at the entrances to the Kirya, Israel's military headquarters in central Tel Aviv. Other demonstrators ignited smoke bombs, drummed and chanted outside the Tel Aviv stock exchange. Some held signs that read: "Save our startup nation" and "Dictatorship will kill the economy."

The latest "day of disruption" comes after a parliamentary committee pushed through a contentious plan to overhaul the country’s judicial system. A vote on the bill is expected next week.

Others gathered outside the headquarters of the Histadrut, Israel's largest labor union, and urged the organization to call a general strike. Such a move could paralyze the country's economy. The labor union last held a strike in March and Netanyahu froze his judicial overhaul.


Additional protests are planned throughout Tuesday, including rush hour stand-ins at train stations around the country.

Israeli police have already arrested at least 19 people in central Israel.

"This government is totally insane. We are afraid for our democracy, for everything we’ve built – that’s why we are all here fighting," said Itai Bar Natan, 48, CFO of an Israeli start-up, who joined protests of the judicial overhaul.

The protests are expected to continue through the week as the Israel Medical Association already announced it would be holding a two-hour strike on Wednesday.


Netanyahu’s effort to overhaul the judiciary in March was met with similar protests, and he paused his proposal to discuss a compromise with his political opposition. Once these talks failed last month, he resumed the overhaul.

The proposed laws would give lawmakers the final say on the legality of laws as it would grant parliament the power to overturn high court decisions. The legislative body could then pass laws impervious to judicial review.

In addition, the proposals would give the legislature greater control over judicial appointments.

Netanyahu and his allies have argued the measures would shift control to the electorate rather than unelected judges of an activist Supreme Court.

Tuesday's protests came as Israeli President Isaac Herzog was visiting the United States, where he is scheduled to meet with President Biden in Washington, D.C. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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