TA protesters: Gov’t drowning the public

Thousands rally against occupation, Gaza blockade.

Tel Aviv protest 311 (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Tel Aviv protest 311
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Thousands of people rallied in Tel Aviv on Saturday to protest 43 years of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, and a government that organizers said is “drowning Israel.”
The protesters began their demonstration by marching from Rabin Square to the Tel Aviv Museum, where speeches were delivered.
RELATED:
Israel may allow future aid ships into Gaza after inspection
Obama: Use flotilla to resolve conflict

The demonstration, which was held under the slogan “The government isdrowning us all,” was originally planned solely to protest theoccupation, but following last Monday’s deadly raid on a Turkish vesseltrying to run the Gaza blockade, the rally also addressed thegovernment’s policies in regard to the Gaza Strip and the operationthat left nine foreigners dead and several IDF soldiers wounded.
Dozens of counter-protesters periodically attempted to disrupt thedemonstration, and at one point a smoke grenade was thrown at therally. The main rally was held at the museum, while counter-protestersgathered in an adjacent patch of sidewalk, sang the praises of theIsrael Navy commandos and “Hatikva.”
At the end of the demonstration, Gush Shalom founder Uri Avnery, 86,said that he and his wife were attacked by about a dozen people takingpart in the counter-protest. They were lightly injured but did notrequire medical treatment.
As busloads of left-wing activists drove past at the end of theevening, counter-protesters chanted “traitors,” “terror supporters,”and “go to Gaza” behind a wall of border policemen and YASAM riotpolice.
Organizers say demonstration was bigger than expected
Adam Keller, a spokesman for Gush Shalom, one of the organizers of the event, told The Jerusalem Postit “was an even bigger success than he expected” and that he believesthe past week’s events had led to an increase in the number ofparticipants.
“Many people didn’t agree over what level they oppose this government,but they feel suffocated by it, and feel that it is antagonizing theentire world,” he said.
Yariv Oppenheimer, who heads Peace Now, said the demonstration was muchlarger than he expected and that it showed that “people are opposed tothis government that is driving us toward international isolation.”
Oppenheimer added that he hoped the larger-than-expected rally leads toa new wave of opposition to the government, and praised what he saidwas a lack of anti-IDF slogans, placards and sentiments at therally.