The fierce scuffles broke out Tuesday when police and Knesset guards tried to quell about 500 protesters that were marching from the center of Jerusalem to the Knesset, shouting “We want social justice,” AFP reported.
“Clashes broke out between hundreds of protesters and police in front of the Knesset,” said a police spokeswoman, adding that two demonstrators were detained.
The police failed to contain the demonstration, which was scheduled to coincide with a parliamentary debate on how to manage the sweeping wave of discontent over the growing social injustice and soaring living costs in Israel.
During the Knesset session, Israel’s opposition leader Tzipi Livni backed protesters, slamming the lack of social justice in Israel and demanding “a fundamental shift in its economic and social priorities.”
“The street has exposed these problems and we must fight for the future of our children as well as for budgets which can be used to this end because there is no social justice in Israel,” said the leader of Israel’s Kadima Party.
Protesters, however, played down the Knesset session, saying that it will not amount to anything meaningful.
“Nothing will come out of it. The struggle will continue until the economic agenda in Israel changes, even if it takes a long time or ends at the ballot box,” a demonstrator stated, adding, “It will continue until the aggressive, capitalist economic policy in Israel changes.”
Recent polls demonstrate that 80 percent of all Israelis are against policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has established a committee to draft reform proposals to calm down escalating protests.
This comes as activists have set up their own alternative committee and are expected to come up with their own proposed reforms within the next 10 days.
The large-scale unrest erupted in Israel in mid-July when frustrated protesters erected tents in Tel Aviv to show their inability to afford housing in the city.
The protest quickly developed into a much larger movement across Israel over the high cost of food, housing, education and health care as well as huge income gaps and social inequalities.
More than 300,000 anti-government demonstrators turned out in Tel Aviv on August 6 in what has been described as the largest demonstration ever held to protest socioeconomic issues in Israel.
A recent opinion poll published by Israel’s Channel 10 television showed that an overwhelming 88 percent of respondents to the survey supported the protest movement.