More than 200 people, mainly residents of the south and the border area with Gaza marched in Tel Aviv Saturday night from Rabin Square to Rokach Boulevard, protesting what they called a “weak cabinet that doesn’t try to resolve the problem of one-fifth of the area of the State of Israel.” The protesters called on the government to find a long-term solution on the Gaza border and not make do with “breaks between rounds” of fighting.
The protest was organized by a group calling itself the Qasam Generation, which was founded during the 2014 fighting in Gaza, together with other groups from the area near the Gaza border. They were joined by a group that holds weekly protests against government corruption at Habima Square. The organizers, who brought dozens of balloons with fireworks attached and which were flown during the demonstration, said they wanted the protest to be unaffiliated to any political party.
The protests were launched last week when a group of about 100 Gaza-border residents gathered at the Shalom junction in Tel Aviv.
One of the organizers, Ido Ben-Yosef, 28 of Kfar Aza told Haaretz: “I’ve been living in the kibbutz for 18 years. I moved with my parents from Ashkelon. We are citizens, not necessarily left or right, religious or secular. There are all kinds here, we are simply a group of civilians whose quality of life is constant war with small breaks. We can’t stand this situation. We want complete quiet.”
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Ben-Yosef says he knows there’s no magic solution. “But we feel that the government is not serious about finding a solution. For the last 17 years the government has been trying two things: cease-fires and operations. Why keep trying the same things time after time?
Nitza Nakan, who has lived in the Negev town of Sderot for the past 17 years, told Haaretz: “For many years we were so nice. We gave them chances, we came to the Knesset, but we were nice and nobody cared about us. This is about tens of thousands of people who can’t live quietly. It’s Hamas that’s in charge of our lives and the government is dancing to its tune. There’s no government here willing to go for a long-term solution.”
The protesters called for “equality and security,” and held signs that read: “We are not cannon fodder.” They sounded a siren every few dozen meters and hit the ground in a protected position simulating their actions during a rocket attack.
The organizers’ Facebook page said the residents of the south would no longer be silent. “The government of Israel for years has anesthetized the residents of the south with economic benefits, tax reductions, national priority zone... that’s only part of what they injected us with to keep things and the people quiet. And if we wake up for a moment we’ll understand that we’re addicted. We’ll be amazed at how we sat quietly and let them do what they wanted. How is it that we didn’t all rise up and say that we’re taking responsibility for our lives and our region.”