Israel: Barricades broken near Netanyahu's home after outspoken defence minister sacked

·3-min read

Protesters have broken barricades near the home of Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem after the Israeli prime minister sacked his defence minister for criticising proposals to overhaul the judiciary.

Yoav Gallant is a senior member of Mr Netanyahu's ruling Likud party, but broke ranks as an increasing number of Israeli Defence Force (IDF) reservists have been going on strike in protest at the government's proposals.

The proposals would see ministers hold more control over the appointments of judges, including in the Supreme Court, while diminishing that body's ability to veto legislation or rule against the government.

Thousands turned out on Sunday night, as anger still boils after 13 weeks of demonstrations.

Footage showed huge crowds blocking Tel Aviv's main highway, and protestors lighting a bonfire in the street.

'I'm really scared for the future'

There have been similarly visceral scenes in Jerusalem.

A water cannon was used on protestors after they broke barricades near Mr Netanyahu's home in the city.

One of those demonstrating told Sky's Alistair Bunkall that the proposed overhaul of the judiciary was "damaging the country […] and the unity of the country".

"I'm really scared for the future of this country," he said.

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Protests are set to continue this week as the right-wing and staunchly conservative government moves to push its proposals through the Knesset, its legislature, with universities announcing a general strike for Monday.

Israel's police chief said officers would not allow public disturbances and damage to symbols of government.

Netanyahu 'a threat to security'

Hours after the announcement that Mr Gallant had been fired, Israel's consul general in New York, Asaf Zamir, quit.

He said it was time for him "to join the fight for Israel's future".

Opposition leader Yair Lapid tweeted that Mr Netanyahu had become "a threat to the security of the state of Israel".

Sacked minister remains defiant

Mr Gallant had called for a pause in the legislation until after next month's Independence Day holidays, citing a threat to Israel's national security.

On Saturday, he said: "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.

"The victory of a single side, whether it be in the halls of the Knesset [Israeli parliament], or on the streets of our cities, will lead to a loss for the State of Israel."

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Mr Netanyahu's office did not provide further details, but his public diplomacy minister said Mr Gallant was told of his sacking after being summoned to the PM's office.

He was told Mr Netanyahu "doesn't have any faith in him any more, and therefore he is fired".

In a statement after his sacking, Mr Gallant said: "The security of the state of Israel has always been and will always remain the mission of my life."

A replacement for him has not been announced.