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'Students have no options'
Photo: Yaron Brener
MK Ilan Ghilon at protest
Photo: Yaron Brener
100 tents crowd Tel Aviv boulevard
Likud ministers worried 'slew of issues' arising on their watch will affect voters, while additional 'tent cities' sprout up in Beersheba, Ruppin College. Housing is basic right, landlords 'piggish', say protesters

Hundreds more joined a Tel Aviv "tent city" Sunday in a growing protest against rising apartment prices in the city. By late evening around 100 tents and hundreds of people crowded Rothschild Boulevard, and similar protests were also organized in Beersheba and Ruppin College.

 

"There is a huge difference in people's regard towards us today in comparison to previous days," Roee Noiman, an organizer of the Tel Aviv protest, told Ynet.

 

 

MKs Ilan Ghilon (Meretz) and Nino Abesadze (Kadima) also visited the tents, with the latter carrying a mattress and other necessities to stay the night. Abesadze claims she will depart from the protest area Monday morning and go directly to the Knesset "to look Steinitz in the eyes".

 

"The danger is immediate and long-term," she said. "It is not the Iranian bomb, which no one is certain whether it will come or not. The bomb is the youth here, who don't know what will be. I came here to identify with them."

 

Noiman said the meeting with the MKs had been "cultured and pleasant". A number of singers – including Efrat Gosh and Hemi Rudner – performed before the protesters. 


'Get a mortgage, end up in a tent' (Photo: Herzl Yosef)

 

Members of the ruling party expressed concern over the protests threatening to affect voters. "Citizens don't care about tycoons or contractors, they want answers from the government," a senior minister said.

 

"A slew of issues have arisen on our watch, and they could harm the Likud. We need to act swiftly and present plans and solutions," he added, referring to the recent popular discontent with anything from gasoline to cottage cheese prices.

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier that he was aware of the crisis. "The government is doing things to fix the disease which has been hounding us for many years. We are a small country, demand is high and there just aren't enough apartments," said Netanyahu.

 

'50% rise in prices in Beersheba'

Meanwhile the housing cause continued to garner nationwide support. Protesters calling their drawn-out demonstration "Week of Rage" are camping out across from Tel Aviv's Akirov Towers, home to some of the city's wealthiest inhabitants as well as Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

 

The protesters marched from Rabin Square carrying furniture and tents and set them up on the towers' lawn.

 

In Beersheba, meanwhile, students from Ben Gurion University set up tents near the teachers' center, not far from the school. They were joined by dozens more from the city who say they have been hurt by the rising housing prices.  

 

Tal, a 25-year old student, explained, "Housing is a basic right, but there is currently no supervision over housing prices… This is the business of each and every one of us."

 

Another student accused landlords of "piggish" greed.

 

"These past few years we've seen a disproportional rise in prices. Landlords are taking advantage of a situation allowing them to get more money from the students, who often have no other options," said another student, Chen Cohen.

 

He added that prices had risen by 50% over recent years. "We plan to be here today and tomorrow in order to spread this message among students, so they understand that they shouldn't have to pay any price," he said.

 

Hadas Stern said she is being forced to leave her apartment because her landlord is increasing her rent by NIS 500 ($145). She lives with three roommates in an apartment with no living room.

 

"I love my apartment, but I can't afford this. I don't want to live off my parents. I believe it is my right to earn a dignified living and finish my degree properly," she said.

 

Moran Azulay, Attila Somfalvi, and Ilana Curiel contributed to this report

 

 


First published: 17.07.11, 23:41
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