Wearing yellow fluorescent safety vests similar to those worn by protesters in France during the past month, hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of Tel Aviv on Friday, December 14, to protest Israel’s high cost of living. The demonstrators blocked the Azrieli intersection in the city center; 10 were arrested on allegations of disorderly conduct during clashes with the police.
Before the event, the organizers of the demonstration wrote on social media: “We are taking to the streets to stop price increases, to strip the monopolies of their power, and to lower the cost of living that weighs on all Israelis. This is the heart of the struggle.”
The protests are focusing on recently announced price hikes. The Israel Electric Corporation is putting up rates by between 6.9 percent and 8.1 percent, and the Water Authority is increasing prices by 4.5 percent in January. Several food manufacturers have also announced price hikes.
Food maker Osem, owned by Swiss multinational Nestlé Corporation said this week that it would increase prices by 2 percent to 4.5 percent at the start of the year, while rival Tnuva controlled by a Chinese state company, Bright Food, is opting for 2 percent to 3 percent. In addition, bakeries have asked that the retail cost of price-controlled bread be allowed to rise 3.4 percent.
“The far-right Israeli government has declared war on the chance of the working class and weaker layers of society to keep their heads above water,” Hadash MK Dov Khenin (Joint List) told journalists during the demonstration.
“The Israeli public is not supposed to pay the price of a failing government with a crooked policy and which has agreed to a corrupt gas plan, which has driven this crazy wave of price increases. Workers demand salary increases, not more committees.” The Hadash fraction at the Histadrut demanded the unions on Friday to establish “a struggle schedule” to fighting the increasing cost of living.
The National Union of Israeli Students announced that it is joining the protests and called for a large rally in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening December 22. “We’re returning to the streets because we can’t remain silent any longer,” said Ram Shefa, the union’s Chairman. “Prices are rising and we turn the other cheek only to get another slap on the face.”
Yet another demonstration against the increasing cost of living was held Saturday night, December 15, outside the Haifa Museum under the initiative of Hadash and the Communist Party of Israel branches in the northern Israeli city.