Israelis protest cost of living
JERUSALEM — Israelis poured into the streets of the country’s three largest cities Saturday night for what protest leaders predicted would be the largest of months of demonstrations against the rising cost of living.
The demonstrations in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa marked the climax of a summer-long grass-roots protest movement that has ballooned from a few tents in Tel Aviv to a nationwide phenomenon that has delivered the government its most serious domestic crisis.
The protest movement and its slogan of “the people demand social justice” has thrust Israel’s economic issues to the top of the country’s agenda and brought thousands into the streets each week. One night of protests, on Aug. 6, saw 250,000 people turn out, the largest outpouring so far.
The number of protesters has dipped considerably in recent weeks as a deadly shooting attack in southern Israel and rocket barrages from Gaza have diverted attention back to the country’s security woes.
Protest leader Itzik Shmuli called this week’s demonstration a “moment of truth” for the movement that will point to whether it has staying power.
“We are fighting for real things that bother the public and I am sure than once again today the public will come and support us,” he told Israel’s Channel 2 TV. “Tonight, Israel will be divided into two: those old Israelis who say, ‘That’s the way things are,’ and the new Israelis who will come and try to change things.”
Israeli media reported that more than 100,000 people had gathered in Tel Aviv before the protest was even scheduled to begin. Crowds are also expected to turn out in dozens of other cities. (AP)