Israelis Step Up Social Protests: Masked Rallies Set for Wednesday Across the Country

Protesters plan to gather in major cities wearing white masks to symbolize discriminated and underpaid workers.

Protests against the rising costs of living are expected to take place Wednesday across Israel. Activists in Be'er Sheva, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Kiryat Shmona will hold rallies against unfair employment conditions, wearing white masks as a symbol of the "invisible" sector in whose name they are protesting.

Meanwhile, the leaders of the social demonstrations called on Israeli citizens to turn off the lights at 9 P.M. for five minutes, to protest against the recent hike in electricity costs.

housing protest
Tomer Appelbaum

In Haifa, protesters from the Arab tent city in Wadi Nisnas neighborhood are expected to hold their first demonstration. The encampment was erected a week ago by young residents who say they want to draw attention to the problems plaguing the Arab population in Haifa.

33-year-old Raja Za'atra, who organized the tent city, said the protest is part of the nation-wide movement, but also seeks to highlight the specific problems facing the Arab sector. "The banks won't give mortgages to people who want to buy an apartment," he said. "In the case of the Arab population, the supply is limited and the prices keep rising." He added that there is also a shortage of kindergartens and schools for the Arab population.

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Earlier on Wednesday, protesters in Jerusalem attempted to break into the Israel Lands Administration building, while the administration's heads discussed specifications of a new model for the price residents pay for new housing. Among those attending the meeting was Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias.

About 80 activists joined the protest, including a combination of Jerusalem residents and members of the The Ayalim Association in the Negev.

During the protest activists tried breaking into the building twice, but police forces who arrived at the scene prevented them from doing so. No one was arrested.

Single mothers and students also demonstrated in Jerusalem on Wednesday, making their way from the tent encampment to the Israel Land Administration, demanding public housing.