In his first public declaration of support, Labor Party chairman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak declared on Thursday that his party backed Education Minister Yuli Tamir. "The ongoing high school strike is an open wound that's harming our youth," Barak said at a conference on kibbutz industry. "[The pupils] are losing school days and are thrown out on the street. The offer made works for most of the teachers," Barak continued. Barak also called to increase the 2008 education budget by NIS 1 billion. The defense minister said the extra budgetary allocation would come from financial reserves in other ministries. Meanwhile, some 200 protesters were blocking major Tel Aviv thoroughfares, protesting what they claimed was the refusal of government ministries to meet the striking high school teachers' demands. The protests took place as preparations for a massive teachers protest scheduled to take place Saturday evening in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square were being completed. Organizers said they expected 100,000 people to participate. Also Thursday, Treasury Wage Director Eli Cohen said he expected the strike to end by the middle of next week.