TA freeway brought to standstill by truckers protesting fuel prices

"We're demonstrating because we are paying up to 50 percent more on gas," said cab driver Ezi Shaul Menahem.

freeway ayalon 88 (photo credit: )
freeway ayalon 88
(photo credit: )
A convoy of hundreds of slow-moving trucks and cabs brought traffic on the Ayalon freeway, which runs through Tel Aviv, to a halt on Thursday afternoon as drivers protested the rising cost of fuel. "We're demonstrating because we are paying up to 50 percent more on gas," said cab driver Ezi Shaul Menahem, who had driven in from Jerusalem to take part in the protest. "It is no longer profitable to be a cab driver. I want the government to reduce taxes on fuel," he added, amid the chorus of honks of protest from the trucks. "The government should tax alcohol and cigarettes, but not gas - we make our living from that," said his friend, Yehuda Moshe Zada. Many of the taxis brandished signs on their windows calling on Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz to take action. "The government is in a coma," one sign read. A police helicopter hovered overhead as officers on motorcycles and in patrol cars tried to keep the striking drivers to the right-hand lane of the highway, in order to let other motorists continue on their way. Yossi, a cab driver from the Galilee, said: "We pay nine shekels for [for a liter of] diesel fuel. We buy our cars with loans, which we cannot repay. There are only expenses." During the protest, an Arab-Israeli cab driver was arrested after police say he blocked off access to the Ayalon freeway, violating an agreement made between the drivers and police. "He attacked a police officer, striking him the face," a Tel Aviv spokeswoman said. The driver's colleagues awaited his release outside of the Yarkon police station, and denied he had assaulted an officer, saying police officers had hit the driver and sprayed him with tear gas.