Thousands of protesters have flooded the streets of Israel following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to fire his defense minister, who had called for a halt on sweeping judicial reforms proposed by the government.
The dismissal of Defense Minister Benny Gantz has sparked outrage among Israeli citizens and opposition parties, who see it as an attempt by Netanyahu to consolidate power and silence dissent. The controversial reforms have been met with months-long protests in Israel and abroad.
Gantz had opposed the proposals which would limit the powers of Israel's Supreme Court, allowing lawmakers to override court decisions and potentially shield Netanyahu from prosecution as he faces corruption charges. The former army chief warned that such changes could undermine democracy in Israel.
Netanyahu defended his decision to dismiss Gantz, saying that he was not working towards advancing his agenda. "There is no room for personal agendas during this time," said Netanyahu at a press conference on Tuesday. He added that he would continue with his plans for judicial reform despite criticism.
Protesters marched through Tel Aviv holding placards that read "Defend Democracy" and "Stop Corruption". Demonstrations were also held in Jerusalem, Haifa and other cities across Israel.
Opposition leaders have condemned Netanyahu's move as a dangerous assault on democracy. Yair Lapid, leader of centrist party Yesh Atid said: "This is a dark day for Israeli democracy...We will fight against this attempt to break apart our legal system."
The firing of Gantz comes amid ongoing protests against corruption allegations facing Netanyahu himself. The Prime Minister is currently on trial facing charges including bribery, fraud and breach of trust - all allegations he denies.
As tensions continue to simmer in Israel over these latest developments, many are questioning what impact they will have on the country's fragile political landscape going forward.