Israel Protest Leaders Prepare for Third Weekend of Mass Rallies

Protests to be held in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem; Police close off major arteries in Tel Aviv; 500 protesters demonstrate at Shomrim junction in the north.

Protest leaders are planning a massive rally in Tel Aviv Saturday night for the third consecutive week, hoping to top the 150,000 who came out nationwide a week earlier.

On Saturday evening, around 500 protesters demonstrated at the Shomrim Junction in the Yizrael Valley. The rally, held under the slogan, "the northern periphery is awakening" was meant to protest the high cost of living in northern Israel.

housing protest, Tel Aviv - 23.7.11
Oded Balilty

A mass protest is planned in Jerusalem as well, and a procession will head off from Jerusalem's Menorah Park to Paris Square at 9:00 PM, where a rally will be held.
There will be a live performance, including Ahinoam Nini, Etnics and Mosh Ben-Ari.

Speakers include the Chairman of the Jerusalem Student Union, Itay Gottler, Rabbi Rafi Feuerstein chairman of the Tzohar Rabbinic Organization, representatives of the teachers union, people who were evicted from their homes and city council member Rachel Azaria.

The Tel Aviv rally is scheduled to take place Saturday night at 9:00 P.M., and is considered the main protest event of the weekend. Demonstrators plan to march from Habima Square, near the tent city on Rothschild Boulevard, to the Kirya defense compound on Kaplan Street, where they will hold the rally.

This time the organizers decided to hold the demonstration outside the Kirya rather than on the square at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Singers Yehudit Ravitz and Rita are to appear at the rally. The speakers' addresses will be broadcast on large screens on both sides of Kaplan street.

Israel police forces have already closed Kaplan Street off to traffic in anticipation of the rally, and will only reopen the main avenue at 4:00 A.M. on Sunday. Parts of Ibn Gvirol, Marmorek, Ben Zion Boulevard, Dizengoff and Rothschild will be blocked as well, and traffic will resume at midnight.

Police have recommended that the public not bring cars to the area.

Roi Noiman, one of the protest leaders, said the demonstration's central message will be "the government has abandoned the people," in the wake of the Knesset's legislation to form housing committees and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ignoring of the protesters' demands.

"The people are taking the country back," he said. "We're expecting a powerful demonstration for social change. This is an opportunity we haven't had for 60 years in this country, and now is the time for people to come out of their homes onto the street."