Jerusalem: Israel`s social protest movement
was hoping to regain momentum and show staying power with a
planned "million-man march" on Saturday, calling for demonstrators to turn out across the Jewish state.
The movement, which seeks a reduction in the cost of
living and income disparities, has experienced a slowdown of
sorts in recent weeks, after it managed to bring an estimated
300,000 people to protests in early August.
But organisers hope they will be able to stage their
biggest demonstrations yet on Saturday, revitalising the
movement and showing the government of Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu that they remain a force to be contended with.
"We going to prove to those who have buried the movement
that they were wrong and that the people are ready to go into
the streets for social justice, affordable housing and the
defence of public education and health services," protest
leader Stav Shafir told a news agency.
"We must maintain pressure on Benjamin Netanyahu, this is
not the moment to cede ground, while he has not listened to us
and done absolutely nothing," Shafir said.
Organisers have used social networking websites including
Facebook to call on demonstrators to turn out in Tel Aviv,
Jerusalem and Haifa, Israel`s three biggest cities, for
protests they hope will be record-breaking.
"We are ready, and our first impressions are very good,
judging by the intensity of the exchanges on Facebook, which
is a key area of action for us," student union leader Itzhik
Shmuli told Israeli public radio.
With demand for public transport expected to reach
unusual levels for a Saturday night, dozens of buses have been
chartered to help protesters reach demonstrations.
And the ministry of transport said extra trains would be
laid on to meet an expected rise in demand.
The demonstrations are scheduled to kick off around 9:00
pm (1800 GMT), shortly after the end of the Jewish Sabbath at
Organisers are hoping they can turn out more than the
300,000 people who flooded the streets of cities across Israel
on August 6.
The protesters say they are disillusioned with the
response so far from Netanyahu`s government, which has formed
a committee headed by a respected economist to examine their
demands, but taken no concrete steps and warned that it will
not spend outside its budget to finance economic reforms.
The protest movement began in mid-July, when young
Israelis angry about the high cost of living set up a tent
city on a boulevard in one of Tel Aviv`s wealthiest
neighbourhoods, vowing to stay there until the issue was
It quickly gained steam, attracting support from across
Israel`s diverse political spectrum and forcing Netanyahu`s
government to pledge action and economic reforms.