Aug. 7 - A quarter of a million Israelis demonstrate to demand lower living costs. Paul Chapman reports.
Anger over Israel's rising cost of living brought a quarter of million people onto the streets in protest. Their ranks have swelled in less than a month from a cluster of students tent-squatters to nationwide mobilisation of the struggling middle class. The demonstrators made their presence felt in cities including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. SOUNDBITE: Lior Vio, protester, saying (English): "We are here today to protest against the high rising cost to live in Israel, against the way the government has forsaken its people in the benefit of the few privileged families." SOUNDBITE: Miri Rosenfeld, protester, saying (English): "The prices are going up and up, the petrol, the food, the housing, and it's just happening slowly without us noticing and it's difficult to live like this." SOUNDBITE: Galia Golan, protester, saying (English): "Once we had the smallest gap between rich and poor, we had the smallest gap in the world. Today we are number one for the largest gap between rich and poor." Israel's conservative coalition government says it wants to lower dairy prices by boosting imports. It's also pledging to increase the number of medical staff in response to a long-running strike by doctors. And it's vowed to free up more state-owned land for development, build more low-rent housing, and improve public transport. Israel's forecasting almost five per cent growth this year at a time when many Western economies are stagnating. It also has relatively low unemployment. Despite that cartels and wage disparities have kept many of its citizens from feeling the benefit. The escalating disquiet over living costs has catapulted the economy onto the political agenda. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was this weekend due to name a cabinet-level team to address the demonstrators' demands. Paul Chapman, Reuters.