JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli police on Wednesday fired stun grenades and water cannons at demonstrators who blocked a Tel Aviv highway and protesters scuffled with police near the Israeli leader’s home as weeks of anti-government protests turned violent for the first time. In a late-night incident, dozens of police were called in to extract Netanyahu’s wife from a salon besieged by protesters.
Thousands across the country staged a “national disruption day,” the latest in a string of mass protests against Netanyahu’s plan to overhaul Israel’s judiciary and weaken the country’s Supreme Court.
The plan has drawn heavy criticism from wide swaths of Israeli society and pleas from international allies for Netanyahu to slow down. A wave of unusually intense Israeli-Palestinian violence in the occupied West Bank has helped fuel tensions, with radical West Bank settlers rampaging through a Palestinian town earlier this week.
Netanyahu and his coalition partners, a collection of ultra-Orthodox and hard-line nationalist parties, say the plan is needed to rein in the powers of unelected judges. Critics say Netanyahu, a defendant standing trial for corruption charges, holds a personal grudge against the justice system and is pushing the country toward autocracy.
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