250 000 Israelis protest high cost of living
Jerusalem - Angry over the ever increasing cost of living, more than a quarter of a million Israelis poured into the streets of major cities on Saturday night in a huge show of strength by the protest movement mounting the biggest challenge yet to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government.
The numbers show the movement is gaining momentum after more than three weeks.
Thousands of mostly middle class Israelis marched through the streets in central Tel Aviv waving flags, beating drums and chanting: "Social justice for the people" and "revolution".
Some held signs reading "People before profits", ''Rent is not a luxury", ''Israel is too dear" and "Working class heroes".
In Jerusalem, protesters gathered outside Netanyahu's residence.
Demonstrations began last month with a few tents set up in an expensive part of Tel Aviv to protest real estate prices. The tent encampments quickly sprouted in other city centres and the movement further expanded as protesters later joined in over a wide range of economic issues.
The popular demonstrations have snowballed into the biggest internal challenge yet for Netanyahu and his government.
Polls released last week show his approval ratings have dropped while support for the protesters is high. Netanyahu has announced a series of bureaucratic reforms including freeing up land for construction and offering tax breaks.
But the reforms have only increased anger in the streets with protesters complaining the measures would have no real affect on them.