Tens of thousands mass in TA tent city for march, rally

Busloads of people protesting high price of rents arrive at Bima Square for march to Tel Aviv Museum where rally scheduled to take place.

Tent City Rally (Ben) 311 (photo credit: Ben Hartman [file])
Tent City Rally (Ben) 311
(photo credit: Ben Hartman [file])
Tens of thousands of people massed at the Tel Aviv tent city on Saturday evening ahead of a march and rally beginning at the Bima Square on Rothschild Boulevard and scheduled to culminate at the Tel Aviv Museum.
Daphni Leef, the 26-year-old freelance filmmaker who started the tent city protest against high rent prices that began on July 14 and quickly spread across the country, said buses have been organized to bring protesters from tent cities across Israel to participate in the rally.
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Police and the municipality have approved the march, and no politicians will be invited or allowed to speak at the rally, she said.
“It’s a peoples’ struggle for all of the public and has crossed all lines, because there are some things that are above all arguments,” Leef said.
When asked what she would do if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called and asked to speak at the rally, she said “he should come to listen. This is not for politicians. This is a collective dialogue.”
Demonstrators in Jerusalem protesting against what they call exorbitant rent prices across the country said Friday that they would move their tent-city this upcoming Sunday to Wohl Rose Park opposite the Knesset, Israel Radio reported.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat had asked the protesters to leave Kikar Tzahal (IDF Square), opposite the Old City Walls, by Thursday afternoon, as the area is a heavily-traveled tourist area. Protesters refused to leave the premises on Friday morning but said they were in discussions with the municipality about possibly relocating.
According to protesters, the move on Sunday is significant because on Monday, Knesset members are going to vote on housing reform which both would streamline the bureaucratic process necessary to begin construction of housing units, but would also allocate apartments for for rent.
Netanyahu is expected to unveil a new plan to address the housing shortage as early as Sunday. The plan is expected to include solutions for young couples, students, and recently released soldiers.
Netanyahu worked on the plan in a meeting on Friday with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias, and Prime Minister's Office director-general Eyal Gabai. The prime minister instructed Steinitz and Atias to work on a plan that will soon be presented to the public.