An estimated 450,000 Israelis were marching across the country as part of the ‘March of the Million,’ a rally which organizers hope will grow to be the biggest social protest in Israel’s history.
According to initial estimates more than 300,000 people amassed in Tel Aviv’s Kikar Hamedina square, where the central event is currently taking place.
Thousands were reportedly marching along Tel Aviv’s Pinkas St. toward the main rally at Kikar Hamedina, with other choosing – contrary to the police’s estimates – to march from neighboring city of Ramat Gan, with traffic interrupted as a result of the impromptu march.
Yonatan Levy, one of the protest’s leaders, told Haaretz that there were “ten thousand people in [Kikar Hamedina], and a large amount coming from the Rothschild tent area.”
“It feels like a second independence Day,” Levy added, saying “people are dancing in circles, shouting together. People are coming in from the north, from Jerusalem. It looks very good and moving.”
Speaking at the main rally in Tel Aviv, National Student Union chairman Itzik Shmuli said: “This square is filled with the new Israelis, who would die for this country, but expect you, Mr. prime minister, to let us live in this country.”
“Tonight, Israel is awakening into the largest protest in its history,” Shmuli added.
Addressing the massive crowd at the main Tel Aviv rally, one of the protest’s main figures Daphne Leef, spoke of a “new hope born out of feelings of despair, the result of almost unbridgeable [social] gaps.”
“Israeli society has reached its red line. This summer we have woken up and refused to continue walking with our eyes closed toward the abyss. We are choosing to see,” Leef added.
In Jerusalem, tens of thousands of protesters are marching toward the the prime minister’s residence. Speakers will include actress Orna Banai, while Izhar Ashdot, Karolina and the Ma Kashur comedy trio will provide entertainment.
In Haifa, 40,000 are marching from Meyerhoff Square toward Ben Gurion Boulevard in the downtown area, where artists Kobi Oz and David Broza are slated to perform.
When asked about whether the number of protesters would reach the one million mark, one Haifa demonstrator responded by saying that “the number is not nearly as important as the understanding of the power of the Israeli public.”