Protests in Tel Aviv
Thousands Flood Tel Aviv For Reforms Protest
Updated: Saturday, 06 Aug 2011, 3:28 PM CDT
Published : Saturday, 06 Aug 2011, 3:28 PM CDT
(NewsCore) - TEL AVIV -- Almost a quarter of a million Israelis rallied in central Tel Aviv Saturday, police said, for a mass protest aimed at pushing the government into reforms to ease the cost of living.
The organizers appeared to have achieved their target of drawing a "critical mass" out on to the streets to underline the staying power of a movement which began in mid-July over housing costs.
It was the biggest demonstration for a social cause in the history of the state of Israel, which has a population of 7.7 million.
"The people demand social justice" and "the people against the government," chanted the demonstrators, carrying Israeli flags as well as some red flags of the labor movement.
"This is Egypt," a banner read, referring to the Arab spring of anti-government revolts.
The movement has mushroomed into a full-blown social uprising calling for across-the-board reforms to ease the cost of living and reduce Israel's income disparity.
The Tel Aviv demonstration, authorized by police, began at around 9:00pm local time from a tent camp and the protesters headed toward the defense ministry and other government buildings.
In Jerusalem, thousands more protesters gathered in the city center for another march that was to take them to the residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld estimated the numbers in Tel Aviv at more than 200,000 and another 30,000 in Jerusalem, revising earlier figures as the crowds converged.
"We're hoping to reach a critical mass of more than 200,000 protesters to force the government to radically change social policy," Hadas Kushlevitch, a representative of the protest movement, told AFP on Friday.
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