Some 10,000 protesters demanding social justice took to the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday night, one week after a similar rally turned into one of the worst riots the city has ever seen.
Protest rallies are being held in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Beersheba and Haifa, under the dual banner of "Social Justice" and "No to Police Brutality."
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Leaders of the social protest intend to unveil their "social treaty," which they say presents their concrete demands of the government, ahead of its deliberation on the 2013 State budget. The treaty was signed by over 20 major social bodies.
Stav Shaffir, one of the leaders of last year's social protest said that "This protest has nothing to do with any political party, nor will it ever be linked to one. This is a popular protest and we have people here from across the entire political spectrum. Anyone who agrees with our cause should be here."
She further said that the social groups that join the protest "Must be committed to the treaty and must be willing to act if the government fails to meet our demands. We welcome every group – the bigger this treaty is the greater its impact on Israeli society will be."
The Tel Aviv rally began with crowds gathering at the Habima Theater plaza, from which they will march to the Tel Aviv Museum. Large police forces will secure the rally and several of the city's main streets have been blocked.
Around 10 pm, hundreds of activists split off the main procession and started marching towards the Government Plaza located on Menachem Begin Street, blocking traffic on nearby Kaplan and Namir streets.
Marching in Tel Aviv (Photo: Nir Sadan)
Tel Aviv District Police forces have deployed across both highways to ensure traffic was not disrupted.
Some 300 people gathered in Ha'Em Park in Haifa and a similar number of activists gathered in central Beersheba.
Several hundreds gathered in Jerusalem's Paris Square as well. Marchers blocked access to the capital's Light Rail, chanting "We are all the Opposition." Police forces are on the scene to ensure the rail's operation was not disrupted.
Marching along Kaplan St. (Photo: Benny Deutsch)
'Knesset acting like tyranny'
Police Commander (Ret.) Zeev Even-Chen, who lost his daughter in the Carmel Fire, is set to be one of the speakers at the Tel Aviv rally .
"The prime minister and finance minister are arrogant and dense. They don’t care about the public's security – they care only about securing their seats. They don't feel obligated by any of their social promises and unless they are stopped they will cause Israeli society to collapse."
Tel Aviv protest (Photo: Benny Deutsch)
The social justice movement, he added, "Is making very important and justified demands, and when you tie them in to the Carmel disaster – it's a horrifying thought.
"The State Prosecutor's Office is abandoning all of its social assets. The prime minister is shrugging off responsibility… the government, with its 94 Knesset members, is acting like a tyranny. The leaders of the social protest must unite. It's the only way to win."
Saturday morning saw protesters hold a "flotilla" across from Tel Aviv's shores, as a prelude for the evening's rally.
Maor Buchnik contributed to this report
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