Thousands of people set out from 'Camp Sucker' at Tel Aviv's Arlozorov train station on Saturday night in a protest march calling for universal service for all Israelis.
Protesters chanted, "One people, one draft!", as they marched toward the Tel Aviv Museum compound where a rally with speeches was expected to take place.
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, former IDF chief Dan Halutz and former deputy IDF chief Moshe Kaplinsky were among those present. Former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Yuval Diskin was expected to give the keynote speech at the event. Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz was also expected to attend the protest.
Portions of major Tel Aviv streets Namir Road and Begin Road were closed to traffic because of the march and were set to remain closed until 11:30 p.m.
At least a
dozen different organizations are taking part in the protest, including
the National Union of Israeli Students and several groups devoted to
religious freedom and helping reservists and discharged soldiers. They
will also be joined by the right-of-center extra-parliamentary group “Im
The keynote speaker at the event, announced Friday
afternoon, will be former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) director Yuval
Diskin, who has supported the movement since it first set up a faux
military base at Tel Aviv’s Arlozorov train station nearly six months
ago in a call for universal service for all Israelis.
Friday to Army Radio, Diskin expressed optimism that the movement could
achieve its goals. "At the end of the day, Netanyahu's voters are
people who participate in carrying the public burden," he said in a
challenge to the prime minister. "Netanyahu is cursing the day this
issue fell at his doorstep. But in any case, this is happening under
his watch, and I believe that he can implement real and meaningful
change on this issue."
The protest is being headlined “Order 8 – We will
stop being suckers!!” in a reference to the “Tzav 8” letters that
arrive at homes to inform of upcoming reserve service.