Hundreds of Thousands of Israelis Expected at Massive 'March of the Million' Rallies

Protests planned in major cities across Israel, at what organizers hope will be the largest social protest in the country's history.

Ilan Lior
Haaretz
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Ilan Lior
Haaretz

Hundreds of thousands of Israelis are expected to participate in the 'March of the Million' protest on Saturday, in what organizers hope will be the largest social protest in Israel's history.

The main event is planned to begin at 9:30 P.M. at Tel Aviv's Kikar Hamedina, and will be will be preceded by a march from Habima Square via Marmorek, Ibn Gvirol and Jabotinsky streets.

Protesters at the 'March of the Million' rally in Tel Aviv, Sept. 3, 2011.Credit: Moti Milrod

The rally will be addressed by the initiator of the tent protest, Daphni Leef; National Student Union chairman Itzik Shmuli; Motti Ashkenazi, who led the public protest after the 1973 Yom Kippur War; Vicki Knafo, leader of the single mothers' protest in 2003; Dr. Shiri Tenenbaum, as representative of the medical residents; and novelist Eshkol Nevo.

The featured musical performers are singer Eyal Golan and two groups, Hayehudim and Hadag Nahash. Shalom Hanoch was scheduled to appear, but canceled Thursday "due to scheduling issues." The cast of the television program "Eretz Nehederet" ("A Wonderful Country") are slated to present a satirical sketch created especially for the rally.

The organizers and the Israel Police are expecting a few hundred thousand people to come to Kikar Hamedina. Student union officials said Thursday that engineers have estimated around 400,000 people could fit into the square and the surrounding streets.

The head of the student union's logistics operations, Yuval Bdolah, said he expects the rally will be unlike any event in Israeli history. He noted that the entire production staff, including the stage workers and audiovisual companies, are volunteering their services or working at cost, and cited the close cooperation of the police.

Hundreds of police officers will provide security. Many streets in Tel Aviv will be partially or completely closed, starting at 5:30 P.M. Saturday.

Police officials have said they will not permit demonstrators to block streets and impede traffic after the rally, as has happened after some demonstrations in the past several weeks.

Protesters arriving at the 'March of the Million' rally in Tel-Aviv, Sept. 3, 2011.Credit: Daniel Bar-On

Additional demonstrations are also being held around the country. In Jerusalem, 5,000 protesters are marching toward the the prime minister's residence. Speakers will include actress Orna Banai, while Izhar Ashdot, Karolina and the Ma Kashur comedy trio will provide entertainment.

In Haifa, tens of thousands are marching from Meyerhoff Square toward Ben Gurion Boulevard in the downtown area, where artists Kobi Oz and David Broza are slated to perform.

Protests are also set to take place in Afula, Nes Tziona, Carmiel, Nahariya, Kiryat Shmona, Eilat, Mitzpeh Ramon, Kfar Yehoshua, and Hod Hasharon.

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