'We want leaders who take responsibility' [p. 3]

Dozens of demonstrators gathered in Jerusalem Tuesday to protest the perceived neglect of residents of the North during the war in Lebanon. Approximately 50 individuals who had volunteered in the North and others who had come from all parts of the country marched from the International Convention Center to the Interior Ministry. The route of the march was lined with other protests, including a protest by reservists calling for the resignation of the government. Ya'ara Firon, one of the two coordinators of the demonstration, explained that their intention was to generate a sense of responsibility in the government, namely Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Interior Minister Roni Bar-On. She emphasized that they were not calling for the resignation of officials or an investigation, only for an admission of guilt and acceptance of responsibility. Firon, who is not from the North, volunteered in northern communities during the war and described the situation she witnessed. "The government abandoned the citizens; the shelters were not stocked with supplies; there was no water, no food, no electricity; there was no medicine for the sick." She emphasized that "we want leaders who will take responsibility not leaders who shut their eyes." Binyamin Maimon of Neveh Daniel, another participant, hoped his involvement would encourage the government in its cleanup and rebuilding of the North, "I hope that the government will give enough money and food to those in need," he said. Demonstrators sported shirts and hats with the pictorial maxim of the three wise monkeys, suggesting the government willfully turned a blind eye to the situation. "You abandoned the citizens of the North" was written on the front of the shirt, and "You forgot me in the shelter" on the back. Demonstrators waved large hand-painted signs with the same slogans. Others carried placards with photographs of northerners in dark and dirty shelters and damage to various buildings and streets. Firon said the shirts and hats were donated by a group of volunteers. "It is not important who exactly sponsored the demonstration; there was not one person who donated these items," she said. Upon reaching the Interior Ministry, the demonstrators built a pyramid out cans of corn they had acquired to compensate for the lack of food provided by the government. Chants calling for Bar-On to come out and address the demonstrators went unanswered. The demonstration concluded with the participants standing arm-in-arm singing "Hatikva."