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Hundreds of thousands of Israelis protest judicial reform plan for 37 weeks | 60 minutes

Violent protests have rocked Israel for 37 consecutive weeks, with hundreds of thousands of Israelis taking to the streets on Saturday evening to denounce the judicial reform plan of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. This legislation would reform the current judicial system, stripping Israel’s Supreme Court of much of its power, leaving the government largely unchecked.

Lesley Stahl, 60 Minutes correspondent traveled to Israel to report on historic protests and streets filled with demonstrators of all ages and many organizations.

The oppressive summer heat did not stop protesters from singing and fighting, from night until dawn, for what they see as nothing less than Israeli democracy.

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1:15 p.m.

One of the main protest groups is the Brothers and Sisters in Arms. The group is made up of Army reservists, many of whom are no longer reporting for military reserve duty in protest. They now spend much of their time fighting the proposed judicial changes.

“Every day, every hour. At night, in the morning, when I’m driving the car…all the time,” said Ron Scherf, one of the founders and leaders of the Brothers and Sisters in Arms. “We’re building an organization, and it’s full-time.”

The group is easily identifiable among the crowd of protesters thanks to their distinctive t-shirts. Each protest organization has a different color, slogan and pattern, and Brothers and Sisters in Arms are fighting to have their voices heard in Green. Large protests take place on Saturdays, and on weekdays they often engage in large-scale acts of civil disobedience. Members bring their diverse skills and experiences to help us. There are lawyers ready to help the police, psychologists offering emotional support to protesters, and engineers building large displays to rally around.

“…We are defending Israel from danger. And now the danger comes from within,” Scherf warned. “That’s how we feel.”

Following the government’s adoption of the first stage of its judicial reform program, the Supreme Court held a hearing last week to determine whether the plan can be maintained. But a decision is not expected for weeks, if not months. So, brothers and sisters in arms will continue to protest.


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