|More than 300,000 Israelis hit the streets against government|
|Sunday, 07 August 2011 13:41|
More than 300,000 Israelis hit the streets nationwide in one of the largest protests in the State of Israel's history, as public anger over the skyrocketing cost of living reached unprecedented heights and against neo-liberal government.
At least 250,000 people gathered in downtown Tel Aviv for a huge rally against the government, paralyzing traffic in large parts of the city. Thousands of others hoping to reach Tel Aviv by train were unable to make it after Israel Railway halted one train and cut back its service as result of overcrowded conditions.Meanwhile, at least 30,000 people gathered in Jerusalem for a major rally at the capital's Paris Square. Protests were also held as far north as Kiryat Shomna, where thousands blocked a junction in town, and in Eilat, Israel's southernmost city, where at least 2,000 protestors were on hand. Thousands of other protestors took part in rallies elsewhere, including in Tzemach, Tamra, Petach Tikva, Raanana, Ashkelon, HaOgen Junction, Dimona, Hadera and Rosh Pina. Saturday night's protest was launched at the HaShomrim Junction in northern Israel, where some 1,000 people gathered to show their solidarity with the national struggle and blocked the road.
The huge rally in Tel-Aviv, yesterday: "Go" (in Arabic), "Egypt is here" (In Hebrew). (Photo: Activestills)
The protests in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and other communities nationwide drew Israelis of all walks of life, Jews and Arabs, including working class families, students, public sector workers and social activists. Some of Israel's top performers, including Shlomo Artzi, Yehudit Ravitz and Rita, took the stage in Tel Aviv to support the protestors. Hadash and Communist Party of Israel activists carried more than 900 red flags and thousands of banners: "People before profit" and "The government against the people – The people against the government".
Many of the demonstrators directed their calls at Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and some held signs calling for his resignation. Among the speakers in Tel-Aviv: former Black Panthers activist and Hadash MK for more than 14 years, Charlie Biton, called to the protesters: “With you, we will win over this pathetic government.” As was the case in previous rallies, the most popular call was “the people demand social justice,” followed by “Here comes the welfare state.”
Also well know author Odeh Bisharat, one of the leading members of Hadash and Al Ittihad (daily communist newspaper in Arabic) journalist, addresses protesters in Tel-Aviv saying . ”It’s about time this protest will be become the protest for all those exploited, Jews and Arabs."
Bisharat added: "The young people of Rothschild have planted seeds of hope for change in the hearts of the Arab population. It's about time that this protest melt the estrangement between both peoples, when Arabs and Jews refuse to be enemies," Another speaker was Shira Ohayon, a union activist from Ashdod. "It's time to fight against capitalism," she said. Organizers have declared their intention to have more events in the coming days.
For the third week in a row, protesters blocked the intersection of Rehov Kaplan and Ibn Gvirol after most of the social justice protesters had dispersed. Several thousand protesters remained in the intersection, singing the movement's now-token chants: "The people demand social justice," "The answer to privatization is revolution" and "Bibi, go home".