The protest at its height : nearly 400,000 people jam into Kikar Medinah in Tel Aviv
Israel’s seven week housing and economic protests against high housing prices and the rising cost of living in general is finally coming to an end with the dismantling of numerous ‘tent cities’ in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and other locations from Kiryat Shmona to Ashkelon and Beer Sheva. Green issues, such as traffic congestion into Israel’s largest city, which was partially solved by building a “fast lane” to handle incoming traffic ; and green building designs for new housing projects had taken a backseat to more basic issues such as any kind of affordable housing and being able to finish the month on already insufficient salaries. These issues caused hundreds of thousands of Israelis to participate in huge public gatherings, including the largest one entitled March of the Million that in end did amount to over half a million participants all over Israel with the largest number, 406,000, being in Tel Aviv. Some were asking about a New Green Deal.
Consumer prices were also protested
The Israeli government, in response to such a large turnout, and due to the publicity the tent cities and their activists have received by the media, have promised a number of economic and social reforms, and ordered the formation of a special committee, the Trajtenberg Committee, to try to come up with some viable solutions to satisfy a diverse group of people who have come from all elements of society with a joint feeling that “enough is enough” as far as rising housing and consumer prices go.
As the tents and other temporary dwellings begin to be dismantled, a number of them are still there as they represent a section of society who simply have no other place to go. The homeless have used Tent Cities as an opportunity to set up their tents in the most affluent neighbourhoods of the city.
The plight of these unfortunates bears to mind another incident that occurred in Tel Aviv back in 2003 and was known as the Kikar haLechem housing and economic protests that finally ended when the High Court ordered the then temporary structures at Kikar Medinah, renamed Kikar Ha Lechem (Bread Square) to be dismantled.
For the homeless, life returns to “normal”
The poor and the homeless (some who are drug addicts) who became part of this summer’s housing protests are now being left to fend for themselves. As one homeless woman named Rachel said to a Jerusalem Post reporter:
“What happens at other campsites has nothing to do with us. We are people with nothing left to lose and we aren’t going anywhere.”
One positive result of these protests is that some of the participants have offered to restore the areas they were camping in, including planting greenery that was damaged or even destroyed during the nearly two month event.
At least that effort will help restore some green aspects to Rothschild Boulevard, downtown Jerusalem, and other locations.
More on green issues in the Non Stop City of Tel Aviv: