Tens of thousands of demonstrators descended on Rabin Square in central Tel Aviv Saturday evening to voice their opposition to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and call for fresh leadership, according to local reports. An estimated 40,000 people participated in the protest, according to the Times of Israel. The rally came 10 days before national elections are set to take place.
Meir Dagan, a former chief of Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency, was the event’s headline speaker. At the podium, Dagan said of Netanyahu, “We have a leader who fights only one campaign -- the campaign for his own political survival,” the Times reported.
The widow of a military colonel who was killed in the Gaza conflict last year also spoke. “How many women like me will lose their heart until we reach an agreement,” she said of the conflict, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.
The rally was organized by the so-called One Million Hands movement, according to Al-Manar news. The movement describes itself as a grassroots campaign seeking a change in Israel’s leadership and a rethinking of its priorities. Its supporters say they want a leader who will focus more strongly on issues such as the cost of living, fair wages, health care and housing. Attendees are expected to paint the square with thousands of hands to show their support for the movement.
A number of news outlets Saturday posted photographs of the rally showing massive crowds filling the square and spilling out into the streets.
Thousands in Tel Aviv fill Rabin Square for an anti-Netanyahu rally. pic.twitter.com/5BCXWapWra
— Breaking News (@NewsOnTheMin) March 7, 2015
— Israel News Feed (@IsraelHatzolah) March 7, 2015
The rally was officially titled, “Israel Wants Change.”