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Photo: Yair Sagi
Disabled protesters now threaten to shut down Ben Gurion
Photo: Yair Sagi
Disabled objecting to deal with gov't threaten to 'shut down Ben Gurion Airport'
Members of 15 disabled organizations hold press conference rejecting agreement reached with other organizations, vowing to continue protest and 'hermetically seal' Ben Gurion Airport; protest tent to be erected opposite Knesset as winter session starts.

The fifteen organizations of disabled people objecting to the agreement reached by other representatives of the disabled protest with the government to increase disability benefits held a press conference Sunday notifying the next phase of their struggle will be to "hermetically seal" Ben Gurion Airport.

 

 

Leader of the "Disabled Panthers" group Eyal Cohen said his people intended to block the airport in all directions for an unlimited duration of time.

 

Disabled representatives at Sunday's press conference threatened to shut down Israel's main airport (Photo: Ido Erez)
Disabled representatives at Sunday's press conference threatened to shut down Israel's main airport (Photo: Ido Erez)

 

Attorney Gil Goldraich of the "Ahva" (Multidisciplinary Organization for Disabled Persons) organization also spoke at the press conference, saying, "Prof. Simhon (who approved the agreement on behalf of the government—ed.) is mocking the disabled population. A day after the agreement was reached he said he wasn't sure the government could fulfill it."

 

The Knesset's winter session will be inaugurated Monday and the organizations participating in the disabled protests have already announced they will erect an adjacent protest test for a week's time, which will hold activities 24 hours a day.

 

The various organizations have also pledged to block roads around Jerusalem.

 

Leader of the "A-Team" road-blocking organization Ofer Sofer said, "Our struggle will escalate with strategic shut-downs of several places nationwide. We'll surprise everyone. If the prime minister wants a war, we'll go to war."

 

The disabled protest will once again be coming to Jerusalem (Photo: Amit Shabi)
The disabled protest will once again be coming to Jerusalem (Photo: Amit Shabi)

Tirtza Rosenzweig from the "Together – hand in hand" club said, "I call upon Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu: either put us in institutions or provide us with enough money to live respectably. A disabled person in an institution costs NIS 20,000 a month, we want a lot less."

 

Chairperson of the disabled protest's headquarters Naomi Moravia opposed the press conference's statements in no uncertain terms. "I categorically reject the threats and statements made in the press conference. Their relation to the truth is tenuous, at best. This is a handful of 15 'organizations,' most of which are merely Facebook pages and nothing more, out of 600 non-profits active around the country. Some of them only have five activists," she said.

 

"Saying the Israeli government has yet to enact a law only proves their ignorance. Since the Knesset is in recess which will end (Monday), obviously no legislation could be enacted. What are you abusing citizens for? We got things we could only dream of. What do they know about struggles? They're trying to politicize achievements reached with blood, sweat and tears," she demanded.

 

The sentiments aired in Sunday's press conference underlined the combative atmosphere around the disabled protests, which have turned violent on numerous occasions in the past few weeks.

 

Photo: Roee Idan (Photo: Roee Idan)
Photo: Roee Idan

 

This past Tuesday, disabled protesters confronted drivers on the road they blocked in Jerusalem and one protester was videoed hitting an officer, who slapped him back.

 

Several hours later violent skirmishes broke out in the city's Chords Bridge between protesters and other drivers who were blocked from proceeding.

 

This past Thursday marked the first meeting between Prof. Avi Simhon, the government's delegate to the negotiations, and members of the organizations objecting to the agreement.

 

The disabled protesters, led by Kobi Cohen from the "Disabled operations headquarters", presented Simhon with an alternative plan to raise disability benefits to minimum wage levels, without a significant budgetary increase, or so they claimed.


Rogue disabled protest organizations also met with Avi Simhon, who they said was sympathetic to their cause
Rogue disabled protest organizations also met with Avi Simhon, who they said was sympathetic to their cause

 

The disabled organizations said the meeting lasted for two and a half hours and that Simhon listened closely to their grievances, and said he would examine their demands' budgetary requirements.

 

The agreement already in place includes an NIS 4.2 billion increment and Prof. Simhon reportedly said so long as their new offer does not exceed that amount, it will be seriously considered.

 

The disabled organizations objecting to the agreement agreed to band together to continue the protests jointly and without prior warning. They called on Prime Minister Netanyahu to meet with them, as they claim he's the only person capable of resolving the crisis, also threatening that until such time as that happens, the struggle will continue to escalate.

 

The agreement reached between representatives of the government and some disabled organization was not universally accepted (Photo: Histadrut spokesperson's department)
The agreement reached between representatives of the government and some disabled organization was not universally accepted (Photo: Histadrut spokesperson's department)
 

Attorney Ohad Shmueli, representing the "Give a deaf person a hand and disabled for disabled" non-profit, said, "It appears the agreed-upon deal was meant to lower the heat and kill the protest off, as afterwards it will be hard to nigh-impossible to revive it."

 

Avner Orkabi, of the Ahava organization representing parents of disabled children, said, "A family receiving a measly NIS 340 increase will not be able to live respectably. The agreement was never signed and has yet to be translated into law. And it doesn't look like it will. Our request is humane: a live of respectability, not luxury."

 


פרסום ראשון: 10.23.17, 10:11
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