Thousands Protest on Two-year Anniversary of Israel's Social Protests

Demonstrators disperse after midnight; one protester arrested; mayoral candidate Nitzan Horowitz says Lapid is worse than his predecessor.

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Thousands of demonstrators marched from Tel Aviv's Habima Square to Kaplan Street to protest against the economic policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid, marking the two-year anniversary of the protests railing against the high cost of living.

The rally dispersed at around 1 A.M. One man was arrested by the police for causing public unrest.

A few of the demonstrators are staying to sleep on a grassy plot facing the governmental complex at the Kirya. Organizers announced plans for a vigil they hope will be maintained until Sunday morning, July 14 - the date on which the massive street demonstrations began in 2011.

Earlier in the evening, protesters blocked southbound traffic on Ayalon freeway, Tel Aviv's main thoroughfare. Police declared the demonstration illegal and are preparing to disperse the crowd.

Earlier in the night, protesters were heard yelling "Bibi [Netanyahu] and [deposed Egyptian President Mohammed] Morsi are the same revolution."

Tel Aviv mayoral candidate Nitzan Horowitz told Haaretz the demonstrations are "more just than ever."

"People are crying out for two years, and the problem only gets worse," he said. "Even [Lapid], who was who built his popularity on his support for the previous protests, has become a finance minister who enacts worse budget cuts than his predecessor."

Hundreds of demonstrators from Hatikva neighborhood in south Tel Aviv joined with the mass on Kaplan Street where one year ago Moshe Silman died after he set himself on fire in protest over the high cost of living. The protesters observed a moment of silence in his memory.

Daphni Leef, who was a leader of the 2011 protest, echoed Horowitz and called on Lapid to step down. Calling Saturday night's protest "an opening for a new season of protest," she said the "response to thieves should be revolution – bread and medicine are not the objective."

Demonstrators march from Tel Aviv's Habima Square to Kaplan Street two years after massive protests over high costs of living.
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Social protests 2013
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Demonstrators march from Tel Aviv's Habima Square to Kaplan Street two years after massive protests over high costs of living.Credit: Moti Milrod
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Two-year anniversary of social protests

"This protest belongs not to the middle class but to everyone," she added. "The people are angry over the death of Silman and good people are coming together to demand changeno politician has bought us."

Charlie Biton, a founder of the Israeli Black Panthers, a Mizrahi protest movement from the 1970s, also spoke at Saturday night's demonstrations, saying the movement "isn't afraid" and that the struggle must be taken to Jerusalem.

"[Two years ago] we created the public awareness around social issues, and they have stayed central since," he said. "Now is the time to escalate."

Protesters blocked southbound traffic on Tel Aviv's main thoroughfare, the Ayalon freeway, in Saturday night's social justice demonstrations.Credit: Moti Milrod

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