Tel Aviv: An
estimated 500,000 people took to the streets of Tel Aviv on
Saturday night, by far the largest demonstration in the social
protest movement that has swept the country for two months.
Protesters marched down Rothschild Boulevard, a fashionable street
which has been the site of a tent city for the last two months.
The first tents were a protest against Israel's high housing
prices, but the weekly demonstrations have grown to focus more
broadly on Israel's socio-economic problems, reported Al Jazeera.
signs complaining about privatisation - Israel's once heavily
state-run economy has been heavily privatised - and official
specific businessmen believed to have benefited from their
political connections, like the Ofer brothers, who have extensive
holdings in Israel's oil and gas industry.
thousands also marched in other cities, according to local media
reports. At least 50,000 people rallied in Jerusalem and 40,000 in
Haifa; more than 50,000 turned out in a half-dozen other cities.
In Tel Aviv,
many streets were closed to traffic, and Kikar HaMedina (State
Square), the largest plaza in the city, was filled to capacity
unsure how many people would show up for Saturday night's rally.
It was billed as the "million man march", and was widely
advertised around the city; groups of volunteers, some with signs
and drums, walked around Tel Aviv on Saturday afternoon urging
people to attend.
But the attacks in Eilat last month, and the looming Palestinian
bid for statehood, distracted attention from the movement. Only
about 10,000 people marched in Tel Aviv last week. Organisers
feared a small turnout this week would have killed the movement.