Others gathered at the Supreme Court waving Israeli flags, an ever-present symbol at the demonstrations.
In Tel Aviv, crowds spilled into roads and stopped traffic, aerial footage showed.
Workers across several sectors also walked out in a general strike called by Israel's largest union.
7:26 a.m. ET, March 27, 2023
Hardline Israeli justice minister opens door to judicial overhaul delay
From CNN’s Amir Tal in Jerusalem
Israel’s Justice Minister Yariv Levin, one of the most forceful advocates of judicial overhaul, opened the door to the possibility of delaying the legislation, warning that lawlessness could bring the government down.
“I will respect any decision that Prime Minister Netanyahu makes regarding legal reform legislative procedures,” said Levin, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party. “This is with the knowledge that a situation in which everyone does what he feels like, may immediately lead to the fall of the government and the collapse of the Likud.
More than two dozen Israeli mayors declare hunger strike over judicial overhaul
From CNN’s Lianne Kolirin
More than two dozen mayors from across Israel went on a hunger strike Monday in Jerusalem, protesting against the government’s proposed judicial overhaul, they announced.
“We, the mayors of local authorities from all sides of the political spectrum, starting tomorrow morning, are launching a hunger strike in Jerusalem opposite the prime minister’s office, demanding an end to the huge crisis and the disaster that Israel is hurtling towards, to prevent the security of the country being affected and for the sake of togetherness and unity of the country," Moshe Fadlon, the mayor of the coastal city of Herzliya, posted statement from himself and his protesting colleagues Sunday night.
The statement was signed by 27 officials, representing a broad spectrum of local authorities across the country.
5:53 a.m. ET, March 27, 2023
Workers at Israel's biggest port join "historic" strike
From CNN’s Michael Schwartz in Jerusalem
Workers at Haifa port -- the largest in Israel -- have joined the strikes that have brought much of the country to a standstill, the port's spokesperson Zohar Arnon told CNN Monday.
“Our workers have stopped,” Arnon said. “They are still in the port waiting for developments.”
The port in the northern Israeli city of Haifa is one of the country's main hubs. Earlier on Monday, Israel’s main airport, Ben Gurion Tel Aviv, announced an immediate halt to all departing flights.
The Azrieli Group, a large chain of Israeli malls, also announced Monday it is also closing in support of the strikes. “We must not stand by when Israel is burning," its chairman Dana Azrieli said in a statement.
And McDonald’s has closed all of its restaurants across the country, the company announced on Twitter Monday.
The action is part of what Israel’s largest union federation called a “historic” general strike on Monday, intended to heighten pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to halt his judicial overhaul.
“Stop this judicial revolution, this craziness,” Histadrut union federation leader Arnon Bar-David told Netanyahu in a televised speech.
4:40 a.m. ET, March 27, 2023
"We've never been closer to falling apart": Ex-PM Lapid tells Netanyahu's party to "stop this madness"
From CNN’s Hadas Gold in Jerusalem
Israel’s former Prime Minister Yair Lapid has called on Benjamin Netanyahu's government to halt its judicial overhaul, telling the Knesset that the country has been "taken hostage by a bunch of extremists with no brakes and no boundaries."
What's happened here in the past 24 hours is madness, it is a loss of control and a loss of direction," Lapid said.
"It is proof that this government has lost its brakes. It is a danger to the State of Israel, it is a danger to the security of Israel. Our home is in danger," he added.
Lapid called on Netanyahu to reverse his decision to fire Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, and told lawmakers "we've never been closer to falling apart."
"Our national security is at risk, our economy is crumbling, our foreign relations are at their lowest point ever, we don't know what to say to our children about their future in this country. We have been taken hostage by a bunch of extremists with no brakes and no boundaries," said Lapid, who served as prime minister for five months before Netanyahu returned to power following November's election.
"It's almost too late, but it isn't too late yet. There are enough decent people in the Likud who can and should stop this madness," he said.
"In the history of a country there are rare moments when the government must decide if it’s here to build or to destroy, to unite or to divide," Lapid continued. "This is one of those moments. I call on the government, on the Likud, get a grip, stop the legislation and come talk."
6:02 a.m. ET, March 27, 2023
Israel's Ben Gurion airport halts departures as part of strike action
From CNN’s Michael Schwartz and Hadas Gold in Jerusalem and journalist Elliott Gotkine at Ben Gurion Airport
Israel’s main airport, Ben Gurion Tel Aviv, on Monday announced an immediate halt to all departing flights, as part of a strike raising pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel Airports Authority spokesperson Ofer Lefler told CNN that departures will be suspended immediately, although arriving flights will land as planned.
Lefler said the airport expected about 70,000 passengers on Monday, with half taking off and half landing.
At the airport, journalist Elliott Gotkine's flight was scheduled to take off at 11:30 a.m. local time (4:30 a.m. ET). He reported that the boarding process for his flight was suddenly stopped.
5:55 a.m. ET, March 27, 2023
BREAKING: Israel's biggest union federation calls "historic" strike to stop "judicial revolution"
From CNN’s Michael Schwartz in Jerusalem
Israel’s largest union federation on Monday called a “historic” general strike, to “stop this judicial revolution, this craziness,” Histadrut leader Arnon Bar-David announced in a televised speech.
“Stop this judicial process before it is too late,” Bar-David said, addressing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directly.
More to come ...
5:54 a.m. ET, March 27, 2023
What Israel's judicial overhaul plans could mean for the Palestinians
From CNN's Hadas Gold in Jerusalem
At its core, Israel's planned judicial overhaul would give the country's parliament, the Knesset, and therefore the parties in power, more control over the judiciary.
From how judges are selected, to what laws the Supreme Court can rule on, to even giving parliament power to overturn Supreme Court decisions, the changes would be the most significant shakeups to Israel’s judiciary since its founding in 1948.
What it means for Palestinians: Weakening the judicial branch could limit both Israelis and Palestinians in seeking the court’s defense of their rights if they believe they are compromised by the government.
Palestinians in the occupied West Bank could be affected, and of course, Palestinian citizens of Israel or those who hold residency cards would be directly affected. Israel’s Supreme Court has no influence on what happens in Gaza, which is ruled by the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
Critics of the changes worry that if the politicians have more control, the rights of minorities in Israel, especially Palestinians living in Israel, would be impacted.
Last year, for example, the court halted the evictions of Palestinian families in the flashpoint neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, where Jewish groups have claimed ownership of land the families have lived on for decades.
At the same time, Palestinian activists have argued that the high court has further entrenched Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, having never considered the legality of Israeli settlements there, even though they’re considered illegal by most of the international community.
The high court has also been the subject of complaints from Israel’s far right and settlers, who say it isbiased against settlers; they have condemned the court’s involvement in approving the eviction of settlers from Gaza and the Northern West Bank in 2005.