Thousands Turn Out Across Israel in Latest Round of Mass Protests

Demonstrations are held in more than ten cities across Israel in bid to lower housing prices; PM Netanyahu mulls tax breaks to quell the public protests.

Protests against the spiraling costs of living in Israel, that have become a nationwide phenomenon, were held Saturday in cities across the country.

Tent cities have been erected throughout the country in recent weeks in a bid to bring about a reduction in housing costs, and last Saturday thousands turned out for a mass demonstration in Tel Aviv in which several were arrested in scuffles with police.

Housing protest - AFP - July 30, 2011

Gatherings took place Saturday in Tel Aviv, Kiryat Shmona, Nazareth, Haifa, Modiin, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Jerusalem and Be'er Sheva, Hod Hasharon and Raanana.

The protests began at 9:00 P.M. on Saturday and will end with concerts by several well-known Israeli performers including Yehuda Poliker, Barry Sakharov and Yishai Levi.

The largest event took place in Tel Aviv, with organizers saying 30,000 took part. The march began in HaBima Square, just as it did last week, and made its way to the Tel Aviv Museum. A mass rally will take place at the plaza in front of the museum, where the musical performance will be held. The protesters carried signs saying "the people demand social justice" and "when the government is against the people, the people are against the government."

In Haifa, thousands of people marched through the city, and in Jerusalem thousands marched from Horse Park to the house of Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The protesters shouted "he nation demands social justice." On their route, they passed the site of the housing protest tent city set up in Jerusalem's Independence Park.

In Be'er Sheva, over one thousand protesters marched carrying banners saying things like, "Be'er Sheva is shouting times seven." 'Sheva' is the Hebrew word for the number seven.

In Ashdod, protesters are marching from City Park. Around 150 people gathered at Ashdod's tent city on their way to the march. Students from Beit Barel marched from the tent city at Kfar Sava to central Ra'anana junction.

For the first time since the beginning of the protests 16 days ago, a protest involving both Jews and Arabs took place in central Nazareth. In Kiryat Shmona 500 protesters marched in the city's main road, towards the southern exit of the city.

"We are trying to find specific direction for this dream," Stav Shafir, one of the protests' organizers said in Tel Aviv on Saturday, adding that "at this stage in the protest the bravest move would be to allow us to express our dream – what a social state is."

The housing activist added that protesters "want a state in which protesters is provided with their basic needs – attainable housing, attainable health care, attainable education – an attainable future."

Motorcyclists also joined the housing struggle. They gathered at Cinema City near Glilot Junction and left from for a slow-ride to the demonstration near the Tel Aviv Museum.

Earlier Saturday, Likud MK Ofir Akunis said Netanyahu is setting up a team to examine the lowering of taxes. Akunis told Army Radio that "the government is attentive to the public, and so it is working to ease the burdens."