Israelis Take to the Streets in Renewed Social Justice Protests

Thousands gather in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square; rallies throughout country held under banner 'Returning the country to the citizens'.

A number of social justice rallies were held across Israel on Saturday evening, with the largest taking place in Tel Aviv where thousands of people gathered in Rabin Square.

Protest marches in Tel Aviv began in the Shapira, Levinsky, and Hatikva neighborhoods, before uniting and continuing on to Rabin Square. Demonstrators chanted "We want justice, not charity" and "Taking from the poor, giving to the rich, what a country of corruption".

Tel Aviv protest May 12, 2012 (Moti Milrod)
Moti Milrod

"The message is one against the political system that does not count the citizens," Orli Barlev, a rally organizer, told Haaretz. "What we saw this week [the unity government deal] were moves that resulted from personal interests of power and control."

"This government has greatly deepened social gaps," she continued.

Rallies were to be held in cities throughout Israel, including Jerusalem, Haifa, Kiryat Shmona, Nahriya, Pardes Hanna, and Eilat, under the banner of "Returning the country to the citizens".

Similar rallies were held throughout the world on Saturday in "Global May," a international day of protest marking the anniversary of the protest in Puerta del Sol, Madrid, where a massive peoples assembly took control of the famous square in 2011.

The protest in Spain, itself an echo of the Arab Spring, was the first of many such protest movements in the West, including the Occupy Wall Street protest in New York and other metropolises in the English-speaking world and the Rothschild Boulevard cost of living tent protest in Tel Aviv and in other Israeli cities.

Last summer, a social justice protest movement swept Israel, with tent encampments sprouting up in cities throughout the country and weekly demonstrations that grew to include hundreds of thousands of people.

Earlier this week, around 1,000 people held a protest in Tel Aviv against the unity deal that was reached between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz.

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Tel Aviv protest May 12, 2012 (Moti Milrod)
Moti Milrod