Violent clashes between protestors and police broke out in central Tel Aviv on Saturday night, November 7, during a demonstration against the Israeli government’s plans to privatize the natural gas field discovered off its coast in 2010 and its pending approval of a multibillion dollar gas deal with the US energy giant Noble Energy. Ten demonstrators were arrested. About 7,000 people, including many young activists, among them members of Hadash and the Communist Party of Israel, gathered at Habima square and marched past the Sarona district, where several government ministries are housed, and towards Ayalon Highway.
Protests were also held on Saturday night in Haifa, Jerusalem, Beer-Sheba and Rosh-Pina. In Beer-Sheva, three demonstrators were arrested. Thousands of demonstrators held signs aloft against the gas theft, waved banners and shouted slogans condemning the gas deal, including “This Is Our Gas” and “The People Demand Social Justice,” the latter being the slogan of the massive social protests in the summer of 2011. The demonstrations were organized following last Sunday’s resignation of Economy Minister Aryeh Deri. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assumed control over the ministry and declared that he would press ahead with the deal. Opponents of the deal say that, if approved, authorities would be handing Noble and its Israeli partner Delek an effective monopoly over the state’s natural gas resource.
Hadash MK Dov Khenin (Joint List), who spoke before the Haifa rally, warned that the agreement would exacerbate government corruption and make authorities subject to control by Noble and Delek. Furthermore, he said, the agreement would “make a gift of our natural resources to tycoons… We in the thousands are demonstrating against this theft. This struggle is not only an economic struggle or a social struggle. It is also a struggle for democracy. There is no democracy where capital rules.”
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