Israeli premier’s family moved to security agency headquarters amid protests

ANKARA: The family of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was moved to the headquarters of the Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency in Jerusalem as protesters broke through checkpoints around his house, local media reported Sunday.

Security Unit 730 transported Netanyahu’s family to safety as his Jerusalem home was stormed by protesters after he sacked Defence Minister Yaov Gallant for criticising the government’s controversial reform plans for the judicial system.

Thousands of protesters rushed to the main Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv and blocked it in both directions, Anadolu quoted the Times of Israel report.

Israeli police used water cannons to push back protesters who broke through the barricades near Netanyahu’s house.

Ronen Bar, the director of Shin Bet, visited Netanyahu at his residence in West Jerusalem to discuss the political crisis created by the government’s controversial judicial reform bill.

Protesters in the area shouted “Save democracy!” to Bar, according to Haaretz.

High-ranking state officials such as Bar and Israeli Defence Forces Chief of General Staff Lt Gen Herzi Halevi have expressed their concerns about the government’s judicial regulation in statements and in their evaluation meetings with Netanyahu.

Meanwhile, all universities across Israel announced a strike starting Monday over the controversial judicial reform plan.

Protest leaders also called for an emergency protest in Tel Aviv late Sunday after the sacking of Israel’s defence minister.

News website Walla also reported protests in Haifa, northern Israel and in the southern city of Beersheba.

Israel has seen mass protests over the past 12 weeks against plans by the government for judicial reforms, which is seen by the opposition as a power grab in favour of the executive authority.

However, Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, claims that his plan would enhance democracy and restore the balance between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government.

In the meantime, the mayors of three Israeli communities announced early Monday that they will start a hunger strike in front of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office in Jerusalem.

The mayors of the cities of Kfar Saba and Herzliya and Zichron Yaakov district announced the move in a joint statement.

The mayors called on the government to stop moves to implement the controversial judicial reform and start negotiations with the opposition.

They also demanded that the unity, safety and security of the Israeli people be safeguarded. – Bernama