Thousands of Israeli protesters took to the streets on Tuesday and blocked highways leading to Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel Aviv as part of countrywide demonstrations against the government's planned judicial overhaul that has divided the nation.
The demonstrations came the morning after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s parliamentary coalition gave initial approval to a bill to limit the Supreme Court’s oversight powers, pressing forward with contentious proposed changes to the judiciary despite widespread opposition.
The legislation is one of several bills proposed by Netanyahu’s ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox allies. The plan has provoked months of sustained protests by opponents who say it is pushing the country toward authoritarian rule.
Anti-overhaul activists called for nationwide mass demonstrations throughout the day, including protests at Israel’s main international airport that could disrupt travel.
On Tuesday, 300 reservists from the military’s cyber unit signed a letter saying they would not volunteer for service, explaining the government has demonstrated “it is determined to destroy the state of Israel.”
“Sensitive cyber abilities with the potential for being used for evil must not be given to a criminal government that is undermining the foundations of democracy,” the letter said.
Police used a water cannon to clear protesters who blocked a main artery leading to Jerusalem. Officers arrested several others who had obstructed a highway next to the central city of Modiin. Demonstrators blocked a main highway in Haifa with a large banner reading “Together we will be victorious,” snarling traffic along the beachfront.
Police said 42 people were arrested for public disturbance during the protests.