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J14 PHOTOS: largest protest in Israel's history

Around 300 thousands Israelis took the streets on Saturday night, calling for social justice and the introduction of a welfare state. Estimates are that this has been the largest demonstration in the country’s history.

Over 200,000 gather at social justice protest (photo: Keren Manor/activestills)

The biggest of several rallies took place in Tel Aviv, where over 200,000 marched to the government building on Kaplan Street (Rabin Square, the usual site of such protests, is being renovated and was closed to the public). 30,000 marched in Jerusalem to PM Netanyahu’s house. Smaller rallies were held in Modi’in, Haifa, Nes Tziona and other towns. In Kiryat Shmone, protesters blocked the highway leading north.

Despite attempts by the organizers to convey a non-partisan message, many of the demonstrators directed their calls at Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and some held signs calling for his resignation. Former activist and Hadash MK called to the protesters: “With you, we will win over this pathetic government.” As was the case in previous rallies, the most popular call was “the people demand social justice,” followed by “Here comes the welfare state.”

This was the largest in a series of demonstrations which started three weeks ago. Last Saturday, 100,000 marched in Tel Aviv, and 50,000 in other cities. The week before, there were 20,000. The call for the latest rally came after the government approved a controversial reform in the country’s zoning and planning committees. While Netanyahu argued that the reform would flood the market with cheap housing, leaders of the protest movement saw it as another privatization move, which would only benefit the country’s largest construction companies. Netanyahu has also blocked an attempt to cancel the Knesset’s summer vacation due to the protest.

The “July 14” movement started when a group of young Israelis camped at the heart of Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, in protest of the rising housing costs. Since them, tent camps appeared in every major city in Israel. There are at least 4 tent camps in Tel Aviv, the largest one, in Rothschild Avenue, includes more than 400 tents and stretches over a kilometer.

Unlike previous rallies, the last event was very conventional in its style and messages, with live shows from a couple of Israel’s most popular singers. For the first time, the national anthem was played at the end of the rally. What was unprecedented was the attendance. Among the speakers that addressed the rally in Tel Aviv was Palestinian author Uda Basharat. “It’s about time this protest will be become the protest for all those exploited, Jews and Arabs,” Basharat said.

Organizers have declared their intention to have more events in the coming days.

Sign in demonstration: "Bibi you hog, give back the state" (photo: Oren Ziv/activestills)

Protesters in Tel Aviv, August 6 2011 (photo: Oren Ziv/activestills)

Sign at protest: "through capitalism to facism" (photo: Keren Manor/activestills)

Building-size "working class" poster covering an ad during demonstration for social justice (photo: Oren Ziv/activestills)

Tel Aviv protest Aug 7 ActiveStills1

People on a Tel Aviv balcony watch the protests below - Tel Aviv, August 6 (photo: ActiveStills)

Tel Aviv protest Aug 7 ActiveStills2

"Go! (Arabic), Egypt is here!" Tel Aviv, August 6 (photo: ActiveStills)

Tel Aviv protest Aug 7 ActiveStills3

"The welfare state will return" Tel Avi- Tel Aviv, August 6 (photo: ActiveStills)

Tel Aviv protest Aug 7 ActiveStills6

"They are afraid" Tel Aviv, August 6 (photo: ActiveStills)

Tel Aviv protest Aug 7 ActiveStills8

"If there's no social justice, let them eat sushi and smoke nargilas" Tel Aviv, August 6 (photo: ActiveStills)

Tel Aviv protest Aug 7 ActiveStills4

Ibn Gvirol St from above. Tel Aviv, August 6 (photo: ActiveStills)

Tel Aviv protest Aug 7 ActiveStills5

Packed streets. Tel Aviv, August 6 (photo: ActiveStills)

Background and analysis of J14 protest:

It’s all about real-estate: Understanding the tent protests

Tent protest in polls: One big unhappy middle class

Between euphoria and anarchy: Tel Aviv’s revolutionary festival

The tent protest: neither social justice, nor revolution

So, suddenly Israel isn’t a story anymore?

The Tent Protests: A New Era In Israeli Politics? (at Middle East Progress)

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    1. weinstein henry

      Time to post a new sign on the streets:
      Israel Is Not Dead!

      Reply to Comment
    2. Mathieu

      The picture with the ارحل (Go, Leave) on it is, IMHO, a sign of solidarity with palestinians, inspired by Tahrir. Am I completely naive here?

      Reply to Comment
    3. Probably less of a solidarity message with Palestinians, and more of an internal message to Netanyahu, inspired by Tahrir and Mubarak’s trial.

      Reply to Comment
    4. נלחמים על הבית

      Reply to Comment
    5. More, please post more photos! Maybe even some video footage with English subtitles? This is very exciting stuff!

      Reply to Comment
    6. יואב

      הכי גדולה?
      ב1982, 400 אלף הפגינו אחרי הטבח בסברה ושתילה.
      ב1999, חצי מליון חרדים הפגינו כנגד בית המשפט העליון.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Nimrod

      העם רוצה צדק חברתי אבל עירית תל אביב דופקת את במעמד הביניים! מעכבת כבר 6 שנים בניית 1300 דירות התחדשות עירונית (פינוי בינוי) בדרך נמיר-דפנה. 20% לזוגות צעירים 500 למעמד הביניים ומטה 1500 איש הגרים במקום

      למרות שמחלקת הנדסה של העירייה ועשתה תוכנית! אנשי ועדת משנה לתכנון ובניה של עיריית תל אביב(פוליטיקאים) מעכבים את התוכנית רק דואגים לאינטרסים של אלה שבחרו בהם ולא דואגים למעמד הביניים .

      חייבים להעביר תוכניות התחדשות עירונית שבמימון המדינה מיידהם ישירות לוד”ל לאישור. יותר הצע דירות יתרום לירידת מחירים וגם של שכירויות העם רוצה צדק חברתי

      Reply to Comment