'150,000 take to the streets in nation-wide protests'

Tel Aviv protest organizers announce list of demands; at least 60,000 take to TA streets, over 10,000 in J'lem outside PM's residence, some 15,000 in Haifa; protests take place from Kiryat Shmona to Beersheba.

Jerusalem social justice protest 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Jerusalem social justice protest 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Some 150,000 people demonstrated across the country calling for "social justice" Saturday night, the largest of which was a march in Tel Aviv, mirroring a protest that took place one week ago with some 20,000 participants.
Channel 10 reported that 150,000 people took to the streets across the country, the at least 60,000 of whom were in Tel Aviv, although large numbers showed up for demonstrations in various other cities.
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At the same time as the protesters in Tel Aviv marched from Tel Aviv's Habima Square, the epicenter of weeks-long tent protests for affordable housing, protests were taking place as far north as Kiryat Shmona and Haifa, in Jerusalem, and as far south as Beersheba and Ashkelon. Other protesters took to the streets in Ashdod, Modi'in, Ra'anana and Nazareth.
Last Saturday, some 20,000 people answered a call by the protesters who have been living in tents on Tel Aviv's Rothschild Boulevard for over two weeks now, initially organized to protest the high cost of housing.
The housing protests, however, have since turned into a wider call for social justice. Organizers promised that they would expand on their specific demands in the protest Saturday at a rally to take place outside the Tel Aviv Museum.
Speaking near the end of the protest, ne organizer told the crowd, "we're not just asking to change the government, we want to change the rules of the game."
Addressing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's land reform plan, the protest organizers said, "We're talking about our home, they're talking about real estate."
The demands included that the government work to maintain control over prices of basic goods, to ensure that free public education is available from age 0, both in the periphery and in the center. They also demanded better salaries and benefits for social workers, police, firefighters and other public servants.
In Jerusalem, organizers said some 10,000 protesters set out on a march from the central Ben Yehuda pedestrian promenade through Kikar Zion toward Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's official residence. Police earlier estimated that there were over 4,000 people present. Protesters were chanting slogans calling for a social justice. Among the chants shouted by protesters, was, "We want social justice, not charity."
Speaking at the protest outside the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem, Deputy Chair of the Student Union at Hebrew University Yael Sinai told demonstrators that the most important aspect of the protest was the public housing law.
Sinai called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to not pass the land reform law.
Another protester, a man named Ro'i who is living in one of the protest tents told the gathered crowd that he works four minimum wage jobs, noting that Israelis are working more and making less. "The Israeli economy is growing at our expense," he said. "I'm afraid that I won't be able to afford health care, education and housing." He told the crowd to "turn this fear into anger and action."
In Haifa, some 8,000 people turned out for a similar march, police estimated. Other estimates put the number of people closer to 15,000 people.
Speaking with Channel 2, organizers in Tel Aviv said they were happy with the turnout, saying that they would remain in Habima Square "as long as it takes."
Jonah Mandel, Yaakov Lappin and Ben Hartman contributed to this report