More than 1,500 farmers demonstrated across Israel on Sunday, holding five separate protests and shutting down traffic on several roads.
Demonstrators rode in on tractors and on horseback to protests at Yokneam Junction and Hula Lake Park in northern Israel, blocking roads, knocking over equipment, and dumping milk. The two protests drew 500 and 600 demonstrators respectively.
Participants say the protests were aimed at free trade policies, which they claim have lowered the price on produce and dairy products and created “unfair competition”.
Protesters condemned what they called “the one-sided policies of the government in everything related to opening up uncontrolled free importation, high water prices to farmers, high broker prices,” and other factors they say are threatening Israeli agriculture.
Some demonstrators highlighted the elevated cost of water, a result of the long dry spell broken only last Thursday by the rainstorm in northern and central Israel.
“Farmers are being left out to dry – Israel is being left out to dry”.
Others singled out free trade policies which have lowered food prices for consumers.
“The people demand Israeli produce,” read one such sign.
In addition to the demonstrations in Yokneam and Hula Lake Park, 200 farmers closed off the road near Hefer Junction, and another 150 demonstrators protested in the Arava region in southern Israel.