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Yariv Ben-Eliezer, a media expert at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, a college near Tel Aviv, says those issues have once more taken a back seat.
In November, Israel carried out an eight-day offensive in Gaza with the declared aim of ending Palestinian rocket fire into its territory. The same month the Palestinians relaunched their statehood bid at the United Nations and won great support.
“Before the (Gaza) operation, Labour was rising in the polls and Likud was sliding. There was a feeling that the social protest should be moved into politics. But the main issue has gone back to being defence,” Ben-Eliezer said.
Shmuli disagrees. Called up to the Gaza border for reserve duty during the offensive, he took shelter with fellow soldiers under their tank when rockets from Gaza hailed down.
“While all these missiles were flying over us, we had to find a way to pass those 10 minutes under the tank - and what did we talk about? About housing and about the high living costs.”
Many of the protesters came from the middle class, which bears a heavy tax burden and sustains the conscript military.
“We will always be there for our country - whenever it needs us, but the big question is, when we are out of our uniforms, will the state be there for us?” Shmuli said.
Tamar Hermann at The Israel Democracy Institute, a Jerusalem think tank, said a Netanyahu election win would not spell defeat for the social protest movement.
“Now we see the social-economic issues taking a much more significant role in the discussion over the future of the country,” Hermann said. “All the parties feel obliged to relate to the issues that were raised by the protest movement.”