Social Demonstrators in Tel Aviv Clash Over Escalation in South

Event was kept low-profile due to recent security incidents in the south; demonstrators yell "traitors" at activists from Hadash party.

Around 4,000 demonstrators participated in a silent march in Tel Aviv on Saturday night to protest the high cost of living in Israel.

The march, which featured the theme there is no individual security unless social rights are secure, began at Habima Square and ended at the Charles Clore Park near the Tel Aviv boardwalk. The event was low-profile, due to recent security incidents in southern Israel.

Tal Cohen

Many of the marchers said they had turned out not only to be heard on on social issues but also to express solidarity with residents in the south. At Charles Clore Park, the demonstrators observed a moment of silence in memory of the eight Israelis killed on Thursday by terrorists north of Eilat.

At the beginning of the march, disputes still erupted between participants over the escalation in the south.

Activists of the Hadash party (a leftist Jewish-Arab party) waved red flags and chanted "Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies" and were greeted with calls of "traitors" by other demonstrators.

A resident of a community near the Gaza Strip who participated in Saturday's demonstration said he opposed the combination of political messages at the protest.

"It annoys me that they shout 'justice in the territories' when there is no justice at home," he said. "First there needs to be justice at home and then it will be easier to make peace. They are inciting a civil war."

A Hadash activist said that he did not see a problem with combined political messages at a cost-of-living protest.

"We say that there is a place here for people of all colors," he said. "We come with our flags and people are welcome to come with flags from all over the world."

Another cost-of-living demonstration was held in Kiryat Shmona on Saturday night, where about 1,000 people participated. Organizers said that the demonstration was held under the banner of "A strong and united society can stand up to any security challenge". Due to the events in the south, organizers decided there would be no chants or use of megaphones.

"We decided to focus on dialogue and speeches," an organizer said.