From the BBC:
7 August 2011 Last updated at 02:28 GMT
Israelis stage mass protests over rising living costs
At least a quarter of a million Israelis have staged marches over the rising cost of living.
The largest protest was in Tel Aviv where police said at least 200,000 people were on the streets, while another 30,000 marched in Jerusalem.
In one of biggest waves of protests in decades in Israel, demonstrators are demanding government action to reduce the cost of housing and food.
Some protesters have also set up camp in city centres.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld that as well as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, an estimated 20,000 people had taken part in protests in other towns and cities.
“Our numbers are more than 250,000 people across the country,” he told AFP news agency.
Israeli media put the number of protesters closer to 300,000.
It was the third Saturday of protests in a row.
The BBC’s Wyre Davies in Jerusalem says most of those taking part were middle-class professionals who say their salaries cannot cover basic expenses including housing and childcare.
The protesters have been inspired by social uprisings in the Middle East but instead of seeking political change are demanding that the government take action over the soaring cost of living, he adds.
“It’s hard to live in this country,” said 26-year-old student Ehud Rotem, who joined the Jerusalem protest.
He told AP news agency that Israelis perform their mandatory military service, work and pay high taxes but “still don’t earn enough to finish the month”.
Another 45-year-old Tel Aviv resident said the situation was “impossible”.
“We work so hard and we cannot afford a quiet life, we always have to struggle.”
One of the organisers, 33-year-old Baroch Oren, said the movement was “a revolution”.
“There has been nothing like this for decades – all these people coming together, taking to the streets, demanding change.”
See also here.
From Arab spring to Israeli summer
Adam Ford writes on the wave of protest sweeping across Israel, where hundreds of thousands of people are standing up to high rents and low wages.
In years to come, the entry of the Israeli working class into independent action may well be seen as a pivotal moment in world history. While the ‘Arab Spring‘ has seen governments toppled in Tunisia and Egypt, another key US ally now finds itself confronted by its masses – and the event raises the objective possibility of class alliances stretching across Egypt, into Israel, and even into what remains of Palestine.
Rent protests began two weeks ago, in response to an average 27% rise in rents over the last three years – far in excess of wage rises. Protest camps have been erected throughout the country – from the salubrious Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard to cheaper but just as unaffordable areas in Jerusalem and at least twenty-five towns.
The Netanyahu administration appointed a “special committee” today to look at ways to reduce the country’s soaring cost of living: here.
Palestine’s Arab Spring marred by division: here.