Call for Saturday Protests in Israel

Israel's social protest movement on Wednesday called for demonstrations to be held across the Jewish state on Saturday except in Tel Aviv which saw mass rallies last week.

"We decided not to stage demonstrations in Tel Aviv but to call for rallies across the country," protest leader Stav Shafir told Agence France Presse.

"The important thing is to prove that the protest is not limited to people from Tel Aviv."

Student union leader Itzik Shmuli told public radio that Saturday rallies were planned in Afula in the north, and in the southern city of Beersheva.

Israel has been shaken since mid-July by a rapidly growing protest movement demanding cheaper housing, education and health care.

But Haaretz newspaper warned on Wednesday that complacency could derail the movement.

"Protest organizers are facing the worst enemy in their struggle: loss of interest," the daily said.

"Organizers should not become discouraged even if the turnout is lower at the next demonstration or the media decides not to cover events in Rothschild Boulevard," it said of Tel Aviv's upscale area where many protesters set up camp.

An opinion poll published by Channel 10 television late on Tuesday showed that 88 percent of respondents said they supported the movement, with 46 percent who voted for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party saying they had joined protests.

A committee charged with examining the demands of the protest movement met for the first time on Tuesday, expressing the hope that its work would provide Israelis with a "better future."

Source: Agence France Presse

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