Hundreds of thousands of Israelis gathered in the streets of Tel Aviv and other major Israeli cities on Saturday night to protest the high cost of living for the middle class, in one of the largest social rallies in Israeli history.
About 300,000, mostly middle class Israelis took to the streets in Tel Aviv and at least 20,000 protesters in Jerusalem marched toward the residence of Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Demonstrations also occurred in other parts of the country.
Carrying slogans like "the people ask for social justice", "People before profits", "Rent is not a luxury" and "Israel is too dear", this protest seemed to overshadow any previous demonstrations in the country's history.
The demonstrations began in mid-July with social activists setting up a tent camp on an upscale Tel Aviv street to highlight the high cost of real estate prices, and to call for affordable housing. Since then the movement has garnered unprecedented momentum, bringing together many working sectors like doctors, single mothers, parents, teachers, taxi drivers and other professionals enraged over low salaries, high taxes and rising prices of gas and food.
The movement has snowballed into a massive social uprising and puts a lot of pressure on Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Netanyahu believed the movement was justified and has announced a series of bureaucratic reforms, including freeing up land for construction and offering tax breaks. However, protest leaders have regarded those steps as insufficient.
"The Prime Minister believes strongly that [protesters'] claims are valid, that we have artificially high prices that are there predominantly because of monopolistic practice and cartels," said Mark Regev, Netanyahu's spokesman, according to an Al Jazeera report.
"The government hopes to push through a series of reforms that will bring down the prices that Israeli consumers pay," he added.
However, these claims failed to convince the protesters.
"Everybody who works... doesn't have enough money to survive," a demonstrator told CNN. She accused the Prime Minister of squandering tax money on "tycoons and the rich people" instead of using it for the people's good, the CNN report added.
"The Prime Minister hasn't told us anything. We are going to keep protesting, we want solutions, we want real willingness by the government to work with the people and answer our demands, until then we will be here," said Stav Shafir, one of the protest leaders, reports Al Jazeera.
Israeli media are calling the protest a "revolution," according to a report in the Herald Sun.
Newspapers like Yediot Aharonot described it as "A new country - Israel in the street," while Haaretz's Gideon Levy compared the protest crowds with those which massed in Cairo's Tahrir Square this year to overthrow Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, added the report.