Protests against the government’s proposed deal for regulating the natural gas industry were held in 16 cities across Israel this past weekend. All told, there were over 15,000 participants in these demonstrations, including activists from Hadash and Communist Party of Israel. The main demonstration was held in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening.
The demonstrators called on the government to stop the deal, calling it a giveaway to the gas companies and surrender to the gas monopoly. Main streets in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Be’er Sheva and Haifa were closed due to the protests. The main speaker at the Tel Aviv rally was Prof. Yaron Zelekha, the former accountant general in the Finance Ministry. He called the deal not just a robbery, but organized crime. “Whoever gives from the public coffers to his friends will, in the end, refill them with injustice. With its own hands the government created the biggest and most powerful monopoly in the history of the Israeli economy, with one result being excessive prices for gas for the past five years.” Prof. Zelekha said he was trying open the public’s eyes to the way the government is “looting the greatest natural resource ever discovered here after it granted, without conducting a tender, a concession to a group of wealthy tycoons for virtually no payment in return.”
One thousand turned out to protest in Be’er Sheva in southern Israel. In addition to protesting the gas deal, they also demonstrated against the attempts by authorities to silence them over the past week. The organizers said that as after last week’s protests, the police abused their authority and arrested three of the organizers of the protest and issued a restraining order to keep one of them away from future protests.
In the north, 200 protestors turned out in Zichron Ya’akov, 500 in Hadera, and about 1,000 people demonstrated in Haifa. Hundreds turned out in Upper Nazareth, Kiryat Shmona, Kfar-Sava, Raanana, Rosh Pina, Mevasseret Tzion and Kfar Yona. In Haifa, Na’ama Lazimi called the natural gas deal the greatest theft in Israeli history, saying they would not allow the theft of public funds that could improve the quality of life of the entire country — “especially when the government is trying to repress us.”
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