A day after Israel's largest-ever social protest, activists began taking down tents in several locations across the country on Sunday.
The National Union of Israeli Students took down its central tent on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv on Sunday afternoon, and the leaders of the social protest in Jerusalem announced that they intend to take down their tents later Sunday afternoon.
Over 450,000 protesters attended rallies across the country on Sunday night, calling for social justice in what was the largest demonstration in Israeli history.
Nonetheless, many tents are still left standing, even though they are unused most of the time. The leaders of the social struggle stress that there has not been an executive decision to take down the tents, and insist that each person acts on his or her own accord. They also say that the tent encampments will continue to act as a meeting place and a space for lectures and discussions.
"We are taking down the tent today with our head held high, after the very significant rally that took place yesterday," said Yuval Bedolach, one of the representatives of Israel's student union. "The tents were, in some way, a symbol and we had to choose a very particular date to take them down. The tents were merely sheets and pegs; the people inside are what is important – the people who were at the rally yesterday and will be there next week as well."
The students stress that taking down the tents does not signal the end of the struggle but the opposite. "This struggle is much greater than the tents, much greater than all of its symbols. The fact that the tent is being taken down does not mean we are halting the protest. The protest continues – the Israeli government knows that the nation and the students will not let it do as it pleases," said Bedolach.
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