Jerusalem social justice protest 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Some 150,000 people demonstrated across the country
calling for "social justice" Saturday night, the largest of which was a
march in Tel Aviv, mirroring a
protest that took place one week ago with some 20,000 participants.
10 reported that 150,000 people took to the streets across the
country, the at least 60,000 of whom were in Tel Aviv, although large numbers
showed up for demonstrations in various other cities.
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At the same time as the protesters in Tel Aviv marched from Tel Aviv's
Habima Square, the epicenter of weeks-long tent protests for affordable
housing, protests were taking place as far north as Kiryat Shmona and
Haifa, in Jerusalem, and as far south as Beersheba and Ashkelon. Other
protesters took to the streets in Ashdod, Modi'in, Ra'anana and
Saturday, some 20,000 people answered a call by the protesters who have
been living in tents on Tel Aviv's Rothschild Boulevard for over two
weeks now, initially organized to protest the high cost of housing.
The housing protests, however, have since turned into a wider call for
social justice. Organizers promised that they would expand on their
specific demands in the protest Saturday at a rally to take place outside the Tel Aviv Museum.
Speaking near the end of the protest, ne organizer told the crowd,
"we're not just asking to change the government, we want to change the
rules of the game."
Addressing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's land reform plan, the
protest organizers said, "We're talking about our home, they're talking
about real estate."
The demands included that the government work to maintain control over
prices of basic goods, to ensure that free public education is available
from age 0, both in the periphery and in the center. They also demanded
better salaries and benefits for social workers, police, firefighters
and other public servants.
In Jerusalem, organizers said some 10,000 protesters set out on a march
central Ben Yehuda pedestrian promenade through Kikar Zion toward Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's official residence. Police earlier estimated that
there were over 4,000 people present. Protesters were chanting slogans
calling for a social justice. Among the chants shouted by protesters,
was, "We want social justice, not charity."
Speaking at the protest outside the Prime Minister's Residence in
Jerusalem, Deputy Chair of the Student Union at Hebrew University Yael
Sinai told demonstrators that the most important aspect of the protest
was the public housing law.
Sinai called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to not pass the land reform law.
Another protester, a man named Ro'i who is living in one of the protest
tents told the gathered crowd that he works four minimum wage jobs,
noting that Israelis are working more and making less. "The Israeli
economy is growing at our expense," he said. "I'm afraid that I won't be
able to afford health care, education and housing." He told the crowd
to "turn this fear into anger and action."
In Haifa, some 8,000
people turned out for a similar march, police estimated. Other
estimates put the number of people closer to 15,000 people.
Speaking with Channel 2, organizers in Tel Aviv said they were happy
with the turnout, saying that they would remain in Habima Square "as
long as it takes."
Jonah Mandel, Yaakov Lappin and Ben Hartman contributed to this report