Israel demos affect Pentagon chief's Tel Aviv arrival
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's meetings with Israeli leaders have changed locations within Israel and his arrival has been slightly delayed due to protests against a government plan to overhaul the Israeli judiciary, a US official says.
The change in the Thursday meetings was made at the request of the Israeli government, the official said on Wednesday, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
"Israeli officials insisted the meeting location be changed and said they had concerns about planned protests near the Ministry of Defence headquarters," the official told Reuters during a stopover by Austin in Egypt for talks.
Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Israeli cities for the ninth straight week on Saturday against a plan by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's nationalist-religious government to overhaul the country's court system.
Saturday night's demonstrations in Tel Aviv and other locations began peacefully.
However, footage released by police later showed protesters breaking down barriers in Tel Aviv and igniting fires as they blocked roads.
Police sprayed water cannons at the protesters.
The marches have attracted huge crowds on a weekly basis since early January, when Netanyahu's government took aim at the Supreme Court.
The protesters oppose legislation sponsored by Netanyahu and his allies that would limit Supreme Court powers to rule against the legislature and the executive while giving politicians decisive powers in appointing judges.