(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Traffic snarled to a crawl on one of the country’s main arteries on Monday, as dozens of commuters driving from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem took part in a vehicular protest against rising gas prices.
The drivers left the Glilot junction at 6 a.m. and drove on the Ayalon Highway to Jerusalem, clogging traffic for 5 kilometers behind them. The grassroots protest, entitled “The Struggle Is Hitting the Gas” was organized by word of mouth on the Internet, via a Facebook page with thousands of members.
The Israel Consumers Council blasted the price increases, saying in a statement released Monday that the increases “are unjustified and will represent an additional blow to the standing of the Israeli middle and lower classes.”
The council said that tax increases such as those on gas had a greater potential to hurt the middle and lower classes, as they were not taxes on income, but on consumer goods.
Israel’s gasoline prices are among the highest in the world, making
commuting especially pricy for Israelis. The 43-agorot-a-liter hike that
went into effect this week brought the price of gas up to NIS 7.10
(about $2) for a single liter of 95 octane fuel, or around $8 per
gallon. This was the second gas price increase over the past 18 months.
The National Infrastructures Ministry said the increases had been made
because global gas prices had increased by 9%, or 5.5 cents per liter.
Throughout the Middle East, the governments of petroleum-producing
countries heavily subsidize the purchase of gas, making the prices a
fraction of those in Israel, a non-petroleum- producing country.