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Hundreds of thousands of Israelis protest proposed judicial overhaul for 37 weeks

Judicial overhaul protests rock Israel
60 Minutes travels to Israel to report on historic protests 05:13

Fierce protests have now rocked Israel for 37 consecutive weeks, with hundreds of thousands of Israelis spilling into the streets on Saturday nights to speak out against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government's proposed judicial overhaul. This legislation would overhaul the current judicial system, stripping the Israeli Supreme Court of much of its power, leaving the government largely unchecked. 

60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl traveled to Israel to report on the historic protests and witnessed streets packed with protestors of all ages and from many organizations. 

The overwhelming heat of the summer didn't stop protestors from singing, chanting, and fighting for what they say is nothing less than Israel's democracy, from night till dawn. 

Netanyahu’s push to weaken Israel’s Supreme Court divides nation | 60 Minutes 13:15

One of the leading protest groups is the Brothers and Sisters in Arms. The group is made up of army reservists, many of whom no longer show up for military reserve duty in protest. They are now spending much of their time combating the proposed judicial changes. 

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

The group is easily identifiable in the throngs of protesters from their distinctive t-shirts. Each protest organization has a different color, slogan, and pattern, and the Brothers and Sisters in Arms fight for their voices to be heard in green. The big protests are staged on Saturdays, and during weekdays they often perform large-scale acts of civil disobedience. Members bring their various skills and backgrounds to help. There are lawyers standing by to help with the police, psychologists offering emotional support to protestors, and engineers building large exhibitions to rally behind. 

"...We're defending Israel against danger. And now, the danger is from inside," Scherf warned. "That's what we feel."

Following the government's passing of the first step of its judicial reform package, the Supreme Court held a hearing last week to weigh whether it can stand. But a decision isn't expected for weeks, or even months. And so, the Brothers and Sisters in Arms will continue to protest.

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