Kiryat Shmona
The banner reads, 'The government is abandoning Kiryat Shmona.' Photo by Segev Dahan
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About 100 residents of Kiryat Shmona staged a protest in the center of town Friday against the closure of the city's library and cultural center, which they said signified the destruction of cultural life in the northern town.

The city's community center and library, as well as its auditorium, must shut their doors after efforts to save the debt-ridden institutions failed, the Nazareth District Court ruled last week.

The demonstrators, from a new organization founded in response to the institutions' closure, stopped traffic on the city's main street for several minutes. They shouted a slogan based on a pun on the city's name, turning it into a phrase meaning "wasteland city."

"We are not a political group, and all we ask for is that the government wake up and see what's happening here," said Gilad Shoshan, a founder of the protest group, Young People for Our City.

"The residents of Kiryat Shmona deserve culture just like the people of the Tel Aviv area," he said.

After the library closed down, the Israeli Association of Libraries and Information Centers issued a call to save all libraries in Israel.

"Kiryat Shmona is just the beginning," said Dr. Shahaf Hagafny, head of the association. " We protest the suffocation of the spirit of thought, information and science."

Hagafny said that closing a city library violates the Public Libraries Law. On June 15, the date the Kiryat Shmona library is set to close, all libraries in Israel will stage a one-day solidarity strike.