Photo: Amir Alon
The Ayalon blockage
Photo: Amir Alon
Disabled protestors block Coastal Highway
Coastal Highway blocked by protestors, while Ayalon Highway was blocked for 2 hours early Sunday morning; Histadrut to launch campaign supporting struggle.
The northbound Coastal Highway was blocked by disabled protestors near the Yakum Interchange Sunday afternoon. Earlier Sunday, southbound Ayalon Highway was blocked to traffic Sunday morning near the KKL Interchange by disabled protestors as part of their ongoing struggle to increase disability benefits.



The morning's blockage was carried out by "Disabled Panthers" activists. Unlike past demonstrations, however, the protestors intended to stay on the road for several hours and even have lunch there.


After two hours of central Israel's main thoroughfare being completely blocked, two of the four southbound lanes were opened on KKL Interchange. Exits from Highway 5 to Ayalon were also opened, as was the Shivat HaKochavim Interchange.


Disabled protestors blocked Ayalon highway Sunday morning (Photo: Avi Chai) (Photo: Avi Chai)
Disabled protestors blocked Ayalon highway Sunday morning (Photo: Avi Chai)


"Due to the government's unilateral move choosing to continue abusing Israel's disabled populace, starting now the country's main highways will be blocked for longer periods of time. No agreement will be made in the Knesset unless a 'Disabled Panthers' representative is present at the table," said Leader of the Disabled Panthers group, Eyal Cohen.


Nikola Rostobich, a 25 year old from Hadera, was one of the drivers to be stuck on the highway. "I'm not frustrated. If that's what helps them, I'll be here for as long as it takes. I'm in a rush to get to work, but never mind. I called in and said I'll be late because I have front row seats to the protest," he joked.


Protestors demand raising disability benefits to minimum wage levels (Photo: Amir Alon) (Photo: Amir Alon)
Protestors demand raising disability benefits to minimum wage levels (Photo: Amir Alon)


"They're hurting my livelihood, but I still support the protest. It doesn't bother me. I'm willing to be here for hours, so long as they succeed," said Ilan Nisht, a 64-year-old taxi driver from the Ahituv moshav.


"I feel their pain, but this is too much. This is a law-abiding country and the police can't seem to take control of the situation. I respect any and all protests, but this country has laws," said another driver.


"The protest is undoubtedly justified. It's a shame they end up hurting other citizens, but I can understand their desperation. For me it's being late for work, for them it's their very lives," said Noa, a 42 year old from Hod Hasharon.


(Photo: Disabled Panthers) (Photo: Disabled Panthers)
(Photo: Disabled Panthers)


The Histadrut Labor Federation launched a campaign on Sunday titled, "We won't abandon the disabled."


The campaign will include nationwide billboards as well as newspaper and bus advertisements. This is the federation's first real action on the issue since Chairman Avi Nissenkorn declared his support two and a half weeks ago for the disabled people's struggle to raise disability benefits.


Alex Friedman, who heads the "Disabled, not half a person" organization, was happy with the Histadrut's decision to back its rhetoric with action. "A quarter of a million disabled people 'celebrated' the holiday without food on their table, but the celebration is now over. The struggle for the basic right to live with dignity will continue and escalate so long as the government doesn't change its position. We're human beings, it's time to stop this abuse. Our thanks to Avi Nissenkorn for his important support and for being a man of his word," he said.


פרסום ראשון: 09.24.17, 10:00
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