Netanyahu Taken to Hospital for a Pacemaker

Health scare comes amid protests over controversial judicial overhaul
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 23, 2023 12:01 AM CDT
Netanyahu Taken to Hospital for a Pacemaker
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the weekly cabinet meeting, in the Western Wall tunnels in the Old City of Jerusalem, Sunday, May 21, 2023.   (AP Photo/ Maya Alleruzzo, Pool, File)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was rushed to the hospital early Sunday for an emergency procedure to implant a pacemaker, plunging the country into deeper turmoil after widespread protests overt his contentious judicial overhaul plan. In a brief video statement before the procedure, Netanyahu declared that he "feels excellent" and planned to push forward with his plan as soon as he was released, per the AP. The development came after a tumultuous day that saw some of the largest protests to date against the judicial overhaul plan.

Netanyahu, 73, keeps a busy schedule and his office says he is in good health. But over the years, it has released few details or medical records. On July 15, he was rushed to Israel's Sheba Hospital with dizziness. He later said he had been out in the hot sun and had not drunk enough water. His return to Sheba for the pacemaker procedure indicated his health troubles were more serious than initially indicated. In the video, Netanyahu said that he was outfitted with a monitor after last week's hospitalization and that when an alarm beeped late Saturday, it meant he required a pacemaker right away. "I feel excellent, but I listen to my doctors," he said.

Netanyahu and his far-right allies announced the overhaul plan in January, days after taking office. They claim the plan is needed to curb what they say are the excessive powers of unelected judges. Critics say the plan will destroy the country's system of checks and balances and put it on the path toward authoritarian rule. US President Biden has urged Netanyahu to halt the plan and seek a broad consensus. On Saturday night, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets across Israel to protest the overhaul, while thousands marched into Jerusalem and camped out near the Knesset, or parliament, ahead of a vote expected Monday that would approve a key portion of the overhaul.

(Read more Benjamin Netanyahu stories.)

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