Social Protesters Return, Block Streets in Tel Aviv
The summer “social protest season” opened Saturday night with a demonstration in Tel Aviv, attended by some 3,500 people.
The demonstration in Rabin Square was the largest since last summer, when tens of thousands of protesters gathered in cities around the country demanding a more affordable cost of living.
Protesters blocked streets in Tel Aviv, and demanded that the government act to end social injustice and ensure that the country's resources are more equitably divided. Police arrested five protesters.
Smaller protests took place in several other cities in Israel, and protests were also held in cities throughout Europe, including Spain, Greece, and Hungary. Protesters in Tel Aviv and other cities demanded that “the government be returned to the people,” and “the entire nation is part of the opposition.”
Among the slogans shouted was "we are the 99%," echoing the motto of protesters in the U.S. at demonstrations sponsored by the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Speakers included several of the faces familiar from last year's protests, like Itzik Shmuli, chairman of the National Students Union. Reports over the past several weeks said that Shmuli was being recruited by several parties to appear on their Knesset lists.
Shmuli criticized the addition of Kadima to the government, calling it a “cynical political exercise,” but that it would not stop the protesters from continuing to demand that Israeli society change. Dafni Leef, one of the leaders of last summer's protests, said that the protest Saturday night was just a prelude for what should be expected this summer.
“Police made it clear that they will not tolerate tent cities this summer, so we will have to be creative,” she said.