Over 300,000 protest across country against cost of living

More than 280,000 estimated to be protesting in TA, demanding social justice; Student Union head: "We are not ready to give up on the dream to have homes"; tens of thousands also protesting in J'lem, North.

By JPOST.COM STAFF,
August 6, 2011 22:44
4 minute read.
Tens of thousands protest throughout Tel Aviv, Sat

tel aviv massive housing protest_311. (photo credit: Ben Hartman)

Tens of thousands of people on Saturday marched throughout the streets of Tel Aviv for the third consecutive Saturday as part of massive demonstrations over the high cost of living in the country.

Channel 2 News said over 280,000 people turned out for the demonstration in Tel Aviv, and over 300,000 people were believed to be protesting through the entire country, chanting "The nation demands social justice!"

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The activists set out from the Rothschild tent city at 9 p.m. and headed down Ibn Gvirol Boulevard to Kaplan Street, where a rally was being held along the entire length of the street, in front of the Interior Ministry building and the IDF headquarters.

In Jerusalem, over 20,000 demonstrators gathered in Jerusalem's Gan Hasus (Horse Park) to take part in the "social justice" protests, according to Channel 2 News.

Around 1,000 people also held a social justice demonstration at Hashomrim Junction, near Yokneam.

Police say the demonstrators were not interfering with traffic.

The Student Union announced that more than 50 buses have transported students from academic institutions across the country to Tel Aviv so they could attend the massive march and rally.

Head of the Student Union Itsik Shmueli, speaking at the Tel Aviv rally, said "Israeli students have been trying to bring about change for over three weeks now. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis have been in the streets with us, telling one another that we love the state with all our hearts. Maybe the state is ready to give up on us, but we are not ready to give up on it, on the dream to have homes, to raise children in them.



"We, the students, the youth, are here today to proclaim: We have the power to change," Shmueli said.

He added, "We are not talking about a change in leadership. We don't need to change the nationally elected parliamentary coalition. We, the youth, are demanding a change in the cruel economic system. We demand a humane economy rather than a predatory one. We require an economy that recognizes distinct economic hardships and is not only interested in numbers.

"We need more of a balance between a free economy and a personalized one," Shmueli told crowds in front of Tel Aviv's government complex. "We need to make a concerted effort to reduce socioeconomic gaps, and to do a better job addressing the basic needs of citizens."

Social justice rallies were held across northern Israel on Saturday night as well.

In Kiryat Shmona, 3000 people participated in a demonstration, police said.

Three hundred people took part in a demonstration in Rosh Pina, and a further 150 people arrived fora  rally at Tzemah Junction.

Prior to the start of the main march in Tel Aviv, hundreds marched from the tent city at Levinsky Park in south Tel Aviv to Rothschild Boulevard, where they linked up with the main campsite.

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Earlier Saturday, police in Tel Aviv began deploying and roads were closed to traffic over 12 hours before a mass rally that social justice organizers hope will top last week's estimated nationwide turnout of 150,000, saying that after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu passed his housing reform law in the Kneest, "there's more anger now.

Rehov Kaplan in Tel Aviv, a major traffic artery, was closed to traffic. Other Tel Aviv streets will be closed Saturday evening ahead of the third weekly march put on by the housing movement calling for "social justice."

Stretches of Ibn Gvirol, Dizengoff, Ben Zion and Rothschild were closed down at 7pm ahead of the march. Police were deploying in large numbers Saturday morning, with hundreds set to take to the streets to protect marchers and maintain order ahead of the rally. Kaplan was expected to reopen at 4 a.m. Sunday morning, while the other streets were expected to reopen for traffic shortly after midnight.

Furious over what they call repeated government rejection of their demands, protesters hoped to hold “the mother of all demonstrations” across Israel on Saturday.


Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.


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