Protests erupt in Israel after PM sacks Defence Minister Yoav Gallant in row over controversial reforms to legal system

Tens of thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets in protest after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed his defence minister, who had urged the government to halt a highly-contested plan to overhaul the judicial system.

Mr Netanyahu dismissed Yoav Gallant a day after Mr Gallant broke ranks with the government and urged a halt to the controversial reforms.

As news of the dismissal spread, tens of thousands of protesters, many waving Israeli flags, took to the streets in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Crowds gathered outside Mr Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem, at one point breaching a security cordon.

Some three months since taking office, Mr Netanyahu’s nationalist-religious coalition has been plunged into crisis over the bitter divisions exposed by the proposed law changes.

“State security cannot be a card in the political game. Netanyahu crossed a red line tonight,” opposition leaders Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz said in a joint statement.

They called on members of Mr Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party not to have a hand in “the crushing of national security“.

The proposed reforms, and others that would limit Supreme Court powers to rule against government policy, have triggered warnings at home and abroad over the health of Israel’s democracy.

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