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Daily Israel Report

'Social Protests' in Peripheral Cities Saturday Night

Tens of thousands attended Israel's ongoing 'social justice' protests across the country Saturday night; Arab sector joins in.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 8/13/2011, 11:00 PM

Rally (Illustrative)
Rally (Illustrative)
Flash 90
Tens of thousands, according to the demonstrators, attended continuing "social justice" protests in peripheral areas Saturday night.
 
The rallies are the most recent move by protest organizers to put pressure on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to make effective long reaching reforms to issues such as rising housing prices, education costs, an ever-widening socioeconomic gap between rich and poor Israelis, and the high cost of food and living expenses. 
 
The message, organizers said, is that the movement isn’t only in the big cities in the center of the country, and the government must see it has become a nationwide struggle.
 
Israel's ongoing 'social justice' demonstrations have been criticized by several well-known media personalities in Israel as being a creation of the Israeli media itself with the aim of unseating a Prime Minister who is too right wing for them. Others have noted that, although the protestors complaints are justified, the real poor of Israel, those worried about where the next meal is coming from, are not seen at the protests.
 
Some 30,000 people were present at a social justice rally on Haifa's Ben Gurion Boulevard on Saturday, Channel 10, who has been backing the protests,  reported.
 
Gadi Shabtai, among the organizers of the Haifa protest, said in an interview with Channel 10 that he expected the number to rise to 40,000 or 50,000 people as more protesters were expected to arrive from the surrounding areas.
 
Dozens of buses filled with students left the center of the country Saturday evening headed for various locations in the periphery where mass social justice rallies were planned to take place. Cities holding major rallies included Afula, Beersheba, Beit Shean, Dimona, Eilat, Haifa, Hod Hasharon, Kiryat Shemona, Modi'in, Nahariya, Netanya, Petach Tikva, Ramat Hasharon, and Rishon Letzion. Half of these are upper middle class enclaves.
 
Saturday night's rallies saw Israel's Arab sector join the social protest for the first time since it began, although not in masses, with rallies in the cities of Sakhnin, Tayibe and Umm al-Fahm.
 
"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, your government is not the only government responsible for the situation," Uri Keidar, chairman of Ben-Gurion University's Student Union, said in Beersheba. "But the people are protesting during your term, and you'll be the one to provide solutions."
 
Netanyahu is in the process of suing Israel's Channel 10 and the Hebrew daily Maariv -- two outlets who have extensively covered the 'social protests' -- for libel.