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Israel’s Airports Authority says departing flights from the country’s main international airport have been grounded following a strike called in protest against the government’s planned judicial overhaul

Israel’s Airports Authority says departing flights from the country’s main international airport have been grounded following a strike called in protest against the government’s planned judicial overhaul.

The strike was called on Monday by the country’s largest trade union grouping and could paralyze large swaths of Israel’s economy. Tens of thousands are expected to be affected by the flight changes.

Planes will for the moment still be able to land at Ben-Gurion Airport, outside the sprawling seaside metropolis of Tel Aviv.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul has sparked unprecedented opposition from across Israeli society.

Tens of thousands of people burst into the streets around the country in a spontaneous show of anger amid Netanyahu’s decision to fire his defense minister after he called for a pause to the overhaul. Chanting “the country is on fire,” they lit bonfires on Tel Aviv’s main highway, closing the throughway and many others throughout the country for hours.

The overhaul, driven by Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, and his allies in Israel’s most right-wing government ever, has plunged Israel into one of its worst domestic crises. It has sparked a sustained and intensifying protest movement that has spread to nearly all sectors of society, including its military, where reservists have increasingly come out publicly to say they will not serve a country veering toward autocracy.

The crisis has further divided Israel, magnifying longstanding and intractable differences over the country’s character that have riven it since its establishment. The protesters say they are fighting for the very soul of the nation, seeing the overhaul as a direct challenge to Israel’s democratic ideals. The government has labelled them anarchists out to topple a democratically-elected leadership.

The crisis has also shined a light on Netanyahu himself, Israel’s longest serving leader, and the lengths he may be willing to go to maintain his grip on power, even as he battles the corruption charges. The firing of his defense minister at a time of heightened security threats in the West Bank and elsewhere, appeared to be a last straw for many, prompting a new surge of opposition.

Mar 27, 2023

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