Protests against the government’s proposed deal for regulating the natural gas industry were held in 16 cities around Israel, with over 10,000 participants attending the main protest in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening.
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The demonstrators called on the government to stop the deal, calling it a giveaway to the gas companies and a surrender to the gas monopoly. Main streets in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Be’er Sheva and Haifa were closed because of the protests.
The rallies started with a minute of silence in memory of the victims of the Paris terror attacks Friday night, as well as victims of the attack in the southern Hebron hills on Friday.
The main speaker at the Tel Aviv rally was Prof. Yaron Zelekha, the former accountant general in the Finance Ministry. He called the deal not just a robbery, but organized crime. “Whoever gives from the public coffers to his friends will in the end refill it with injustice. The government created with its own hands the biggest and most powerful monopoly in the history of the Israeli economy, with excessive prices for gas for the past five years.”
Zelekha said he was trying open the public’s eyes to the way the government is “looting [Israel’s] greatest natural resource ever discovered here, after it gave it out without a tender to a group of the rich without almost any payment in return.”
Hundreds turned out to protest in Be’er Sheva in southern Israel. In addition to protesting the gas deal, they also demonstrated against what they called the attempts by authorities to silence them over the past week. The organizers said that as after last week’s protests, the police abused their authority and arrested three of them and issued an order for one of them to be kept away from the protests.
In the north, about 200 protestors turned out in both Zichron Ya’akov and Hadera, with 10,000 people protesting in Haifa. Hundreds turned out in Upper Nazareth and Kiryat Shmona.
In Haifa, Na’ama Lazimi called the natural gas deal the greatest theft in Israeli history, saying they would not allow the theft of public funds that could improve the quality of life of the entire country — “especially when the government is trying to repress us.”