Hundreds marched yesterday (Tuesday, August 16) at midday from the Horse Garden’s protest tent city in West Jerusalem to the Knesset, reminding their representatives that the popular protest which broke out throughout the nation last month will not disappear in the near future. Inside Israel’s parliament, the MKs had suspended their vacations for a couple of hours to discuss the social crisis.
The rally in Jerusalem, Tuesday (Photo: Activestills)
Outside, one of the dozen of signs floating over the heads of the crowd demanded “social justice for all”. The majority of protesters were students, but there were also Hadash activists, mothers and fathers with their babies and young kids, together with pensioners. They came from the two main protest tent cities in Jerusalem and from others epicenters of the protests like Tel Aviv, Beer Sheva and Haifa.
The protesters at first tried to reach the Knesset from the rear gate, but a dozen armed police officers blocked their way. “Come out of the Knesset, the State is collapsing!” shouted the young people in front while they wrestled with the security forces. The protesters sang, jumped, shouted and even pushed the small security fence to get closer to where the MKs where debating their future. The policemen were determined to block all of their efforts and they soon began to use force, separating some protesters and dragging them away from the entrance.
To avoid any violent repression, the protesters decided to turn around, cross the Rose Garden and install their signs in the fence facing the Knesset’s entrance. Inside the building, Kadima’s leader and former minister of Housing and Construction, Tzipi Livni, accused the government of not listening to the people and complying with their demands of change. “Protesters understand that even if they did what they were supposed to, like studying, investing and saving, they didn’t succeed and they’re not OK and the state isn’t OK”, stated the leader of the main opposition party, which only three years ago was part of the government and supported the same neoliberal ideas and policies which are now being questioned.
While the session was still going on, the four members of the four Mks from Hadash (the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality – Communist Party of Israel), Muhammad Barakeh, Hanna Swaid, Dov Khenin and Afo Agbaryie left the Knesset building and crossed the garden towards the demonstration. The four men rapidly caught the attention of the protesters.
Dr Swaid, one of the MKs who spoke with the people, is not very optimistic about the near future. “I don’t think we will see a dramatic change. The committee created by Netanyahu has a limited agenda –maybe it will suggest some minor changes in housing, education or taxes-, but even if they surprise and push for more, the Prime Minister already said that he is not bound by it or its suggestions”, predicted the Hadash representative. Yet surrounded by red flags with demands for social justice and equality, the MK couldn’t resist dropping a smile. “Even if those in power don’t change, we are living in a new political climate. This is new, promising”, he said, pointing to the young students who populated the beautiful and tidy park.
MK Dr. Khenin said that the solution to the crisis is the formulation of an entirely new budget for 2012, rather than changes to the existing budget. MK Barakeh calls for the resignation of the Right-wing and neo-liberal government.
Demonstrations in Or Yehuda and Beit Shean
Hundreds of demonstrators marched yesterday evening from Or Yehuda to Caesarea within the framework of the social protests that have spread throughout the country. This is the first time that Caesarea is hosting a demonstration since the social protests began. The prime minister owns a home in the rich town of Caesarea.
The demonstrators have not received authorization to march down the street where the Netanyahu family home is but they marched by the street entrance. Several activist were arrested at the demonstration. In the northern city of Bet-Shean was held another demonstration yesterday night with the participation of hundreds who blame the neo-liberal policy of the Right wing coalition.
More than 70,000 protesters thronged the centers of a dozen towns and cities across Israel on Saturday. Upwards of 250,000 demonstrated in Tel Aviv last weeks.