In Israel, 100 000 join protests against housing prices
Protests against skyrocketing housing prices and cost of living expenses drew an estimated 100,000 people into the streets across Israel, dpa reported according to police figures.
Media reports said there were up to 150,000 protesters, with most of them in Tel Aviv, where police estimated a crowd of up to 70,000 gathered in the square outside the Tel Aviv Museum.
The gatherings, among the largest in Israel in decades, punctuated week-long demonstrations for reduced housing rents that included famous musicians and members of women's organizations and motorcycle clubs.
Many people carried posters in Arabic. The newspaper Haaretz reported the signs carried messages like "The people want social justice" and "When the government is against the people, the people are against the government."
On Friday, right-wing activists reportedly ripped a Palestinian flag from one of the protest tents in Tel Aviv centre and vandalized a Jewish-Arabic tent.
The initial impetus for the protests that started two weeks ago was the extremely high rents in Israel. The protests have in the meantime broadened to advocate for general social justice.
The protests target moderate conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, under whose government many state services have been cut, with the expectation that market forces would fill in the gap. An estimated 10,000 protestors targetted Netanyahu's house in Jerusalem.
Netanyahu has already responded to the protests by announcing a plan to build more housing, but opponents have said he did not go far enough.
Israeli rents are among the highest in the world, when weighed against local purchasing power. Prices for food, health and childhood education are also above average.