Thousands of parents took part in a 'strollers march' Thursday, in protest of what they called "the high costs of raising a child in Israel."
The main protest march was held in Tel Aviv, with similar rallies and marches held in a dozen other cities across Israel, such as Rehovot, Kfar Saba, Ashdod, Haifa and Beersheba, to name a few.
The parents are protesting the exaggerated fees charged by daycare centers and nursery schools, as well as the overall high prices of basic babies and children's products.
The initiative began as a protest group on Facebook, which declared that "raising a child in Israel is so expensive, you need a second mortgage." Over 2,000 people RSVP'd to the subsequent protest invitation posted on the group's page.
The protest's organizers called on parents to tie a yellow balloon to their strollers and wear yellow shirts, as a sign of solidarity with the affordable housing protest.
Over 4,000 parents participated in the Tel Aviv march alone. Some 600 people marched in Raanana, 300 protested in Haifa and dozens rallied in Yahud, Nes Ziona and Rishon Lezion
Marching in Tel Aviv (Photo: Yaron Brener)
Protesters were holding signs reading "Bibi go home," "A grandmother isn’t a bank," "Bibi wake up, parents are worth more," "Our children demand social justice," "Kids – not only for the rich," and "Let's remind the government who carries the load."
In Tel Aviv, protesters marched to the sound of "If I were a Rothschild" – the famous theme song from the musical "Fiddler on the Roof."
"We just can't take it anymore," Yael Barda, one of the protest organizers told Ynet. "We all need a home, we all need education, we need to see that raising a child in this country doesn’t require a mortgage. We've had enough of the gaps between low wages and the cost of living."
Never to young for democracy (Photo: Yaron Brener)
Still, Barda stressed the protest was not political: "The government has to understand that we want to change the system. This isn't about Bibi. Who will you replace him with? As far as we are concerned, elections are not the answer. We see ourselves as a social movement for change."
MK Ilan Ghilon (Meretz),
who arrived at the Tel Aviv rally with his daughter and granddaughter to show his support, told Ynet that, "Citizens here are asking the State to provide them with what they're entitled to. Not just housing – but everything. A state isn’t a business – if it was, it would have gone under."
Anat Rosilio, another of the protest's organizers, added: "Our next step is to devise a strategic plan which will serve our goals and include a free education law and a decrease in the prices of all basic products."
Rosilio said she was surprised by how many people heeded the call to protest, saying that there was a "parents' movement" in the making "Which will fight for specific things. This is only the beginning. We're very pleased with the backing we've received."
The protesters were joined by daycare centers and nursery school teachers from the Private Preschools Organization in Israel. The Na'amat Women's Movement also expressed its support of the new protest movement.
The protesters announced that a second "strollers march" will be held in Jerusalem on Sunday.
Roi Kais, Ahiya Raved, Ilana Curiel and Raanan Ben-Zur contributed to this report