Thousands of people gathered in 16 locations across Israel Thursday, in what has been dubbed "the strollers march," to protest the high costs of raising a family. Parents marched with their children in simultaneous protests in Tel Aviv, Rishon Letzion, Holon, Yehud, Modiin, Ashdod, Sderot, Raanana, Nes Tziona, Rehovot and Be'er Sheva. A similar march will be held in Jerusalem on Sunday.
"The country has breached its contract with the citizens, and has betrayed us," said a mother who took part in one of the protests. "People thought that if they work hard, pay taxes and have children everything will be alright."
The organizers' demands include free education starting at the age of three months, making nanny expenses tax-deductible, canceling the fee for a stroller when using public transportation, government oversight of products such as diapers and milk substitutes and extending maternity leave.
"Parents have in fact a second mortgage," said Anat Rozilio, one of the organizers. "Besides the burden of the rent, once you have a child up to three years old there is no place besides day care centers, which cost 3,000 shekels a month." She added, "I have spoken with many mothers who told me 'one child is enough, I can't live in poverty.'"
The Israeli Council for the Welfare of the Child said it supports the struggle, as "raising children has become an intolerable financial burden." Nevertheless, it called on parents not to bring their children to the marches. "There is no need to drag the children to the protests, even if they are intended for them," it said in a statement.