Major protests to take place Thursday

Bereaved father: "We will do everything possible to bring down government."

jp.services2 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
The publication of the Winograd Committee's first report on the Second Lebanon War Monday afternoon will set off a series of public protests aimed at toppling the government and forcing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz to resign. The first major event will be Thursday night when tens of thousands of protesters are expected to gather in Tel Aviv's Kikar Rabin for a rally during which politicians from across the political spectrum will call on the government to resign. The demonstration is being organized by Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan, chairman of the Tafnit Party, together with groups of reservists and parents of soldiers who were killed during the war last summer. "We are preparing the platform for the public to call on Olmert and Peretz to step down," Dayan said Sunday, adding that from the details of the report already leaked to the press it did not appear as if the two would resign of their own initiative. "The nation has come to the realization that the failures of the war and the lack of leadership have created a major, severe crisis." Separately, the heads of confrontation line communities near the Lebanese border have called a strike for Thursday of all public institutions, including schools and kindergartens, to protest the government's intention to cancel tax benefits granted to residents as part of the post-war rehabilitation program. In preparation for the Tel Aviv rally, an organization composed of reservists who fought in Lebanon said that groups under their direction around the country would begin marching toward Kikar Rabin once the report was released. When the war ended in August, the reservists, together with a number of bereaved parents, set up a tent camp outside the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem but failed to enlist large numbers of protesters. "Many more people have joined the struggle since the end of the war," said Yakir Segev, one of the organizers. "They now realize that there is a dire need for new leadership due to the corruption and lack of direction within the current government." On Monday night, representatives of families whose sons were killed during the war will issue a response to the report and announce their plan of action for bringing down the government. Haim Zemach, whose son Oz died in the war, said the bereaved parents would not "give up" and would continue fighting against the government. "We plan to escalate our struggle," said Zemach, who serves as a senior officer in the reserves. "Until now we have spoken and behaved nicely to show consideration but that will soon change... We plan to bring about a different leadership and we will do everything possible to make this happen." Dan Izenberg contributed to this report.