Thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets to protest against Tel Aviv’s austerity measures and to demand social justice.
The demonstrators, who were angry with the high cost of living, blocked Ayalon Freeway in Tel Aviv late on Saturday. They chanted slogans against Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid.
Protesters carried placards that read “It’s time to tax the rich” and “Bibi + Lapid = Morsi, same revolution.”
The protest rally marked the second anniversary of the large social protests that hit Israel.
The protests were initially triggered by soaring housing prices, but quickly evolved into a sweeping expression of rage against a wide array of economic issues, including the cost of food, gasoline and education.
Thousands of people gathered in Kaplan Street where one year ago Moshe Silman set himself on fire in protest over the high cost of living.
In July 2012, 57-year-old Silman poured gasoline over his body and set fire to himself during a demonstration held to mark the first anniversary of the social-justice protests that swept Israel in 2011. He died of his injuries a few days later.
Protesters blocked southbound traffic on Tel Aviv’s main thoroughfare, the Ayalon freeway, during demonstrations for social justice on July 13, 2013.
The organizers of the Saturday protest hope that the rally will gain momentum in the coming weeks.
“We do not have another two years to wait. We are dealing with an aggressive policy that leads to poverty on the one hand and brain drain on the other. This is a good enough reason to resume our protest,” said Israeli social activist Daphni Leef. She said Netanyahu was an opportunist and that the Israelis had lost trust in their leaders.
Speaking to the protesters, Leef called Saturday night’s protest “an opening for a new season of protest,” adding, “Response to thieves should be revolution – bread and medicine are not the objective.”
Addressing Lapid, Leef said, “We don’t believe what you’re saying… You rode on the back of the protests, you promised affordable housing. Make it happen!”
High taxes and low salaries have had adverse effects on the lives of Israelis, specifically the middle class, in recent years.
The 2013 budget of the Tel Aviv regime has also hit Israelis deep in their pockets with raised taxes and slashed benefits.
Discontented Israelis almost regularly take to the streets in Tel Aviv and other cities to protest against the regime’s economic plans and the painful austerity measures, which would raise income and value-added taxes and cut welfare benefits.
According to the International Monetary Fund, Israelis face high rates of poverty.
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