Hundreds return to TA streets to protest housing prices
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Hundreds return to TA streets to protest housing prices

More than three years after massive demonstrations, Israelis once again pitch tents on Rothschild Boulevard

Lazar Berman is a former breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Israeli social activists seen near tents on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv on March 1, 2015. Israeli social activists pitched tents in Tel Aviv Rothschild Boulevard on Sunday, protesting against the high cost of living and housing. (Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Israeli social activists seen near tents on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv on March 1, 2015. Israeli social activists pitched tents in Tel Aviv Rothschild Boulevard on Sunday, protesting against the high cost of living and housing. (Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Over three years after a wave of social justice protests swept Israel, activists on Sunday again pitched tents in Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard — the site where the first series of rallies over economic inequality and the cost of living began.

The Walla news site reported that hundreds of people attended the protest, but it was unclear whether the activity will sprout a larger campaign.

The organizer, Shai Cohen, said he decided to renew the protests after turning 40 and finding himself still unable to afford to buy an apartment.

Housing costs rose some 55 percent between 2008 and the end of 2013, a report by State Comptroller Yosef Shapira found last week. Rents, too, rose during that period by approximately 30%.

Several social justice campaigners joined the Sunday tent encampment on the ritzy Tel Aviv boulevard, including “Milky protest” leader Naor Narkiss, Zionist Union and Meretz party officials and activists, Joint Arab List MK Dov Khenin and residents of the recently evacuated Givat Amal neighborhood in Tel Aviv.

Zionist Union MK Itzik Shmuli, who was one of the leaders of the 2011 protests, accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday of failing to address the housing issue.

Three activists from Netanyahu’s Likud party managed to convince the organizers to let them address the crowd, but they were shouted down by anti-Netanyahu jeers. A shoving match broke out and the activists were spirited away from the site.

The Likud has asked the Tel Aviv municipality to break up the protest camp, but the municipality refused on Sunday.

Marissa Newman contributed to this report.

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