israel protests
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More than 400,000 people have taken to the streets of Israel's biggest cities to show their anger about rising house prices and other economic issues.
The demonstration on Saturday 3, 2011, was the largest of months of action.

The wind of the "Arab spring" revolution is being felt in the state of Israel.

A "one-million person march" took place Saturday in Tel Aviv with a call for "tzedek hevrati" - meaning social reform.

Like in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, youngsters are spearheading this demand for reform.

This is the eighth week of this protest, which started when a student had to leave her apartment because she couldn't afford the high rental coast. She set up a tent in Rothschild Boulevard in the center of Tel Aviv. She was soon joined by people sympathizing with her, feeling a need for change. The tent city grew, and thousands of tents were set up across the country with people vowing to stay until the government makes changes.

On Saturday, organizers didn't quite reach the 1 million protesters they had hoped for, but still, in the largest of these economic protests so far, about 300,000 swamped Tel Aviv, according to police estimates. Smaller protests were held in other cities.

Everywhere you could see families holding flags and banners calling for Benjamin Netanyahu to resign as prime minister. Young and old chanted slogans calling for the restructuring of the economy.

The call is for change that will bring down rental prices, change that will let the middle class pay less tax, change that will bring down the price of milk. One banner said that if the government is against the people than the people are against the government.

"We are the new Israelis and we want change; we want real reform," Itzik Shmuli, head of the student union, said in a speech to the crowd. "Our Israel is awakening to a new reality."

Israel's unemployment rate is 5.5 percent and the economy is growing. Still, wealth is becoming concentrated among a small group, The Associated Press notes, and the ranks of the working poor have grown dramatically.

A special government committee has been appointed to address the protesters' demands, but that hasn't calmed the protesters, who are adamant that reforms must take place.

"Tonight is the pinnacle moment of a historic protest," Amir Rochman, 30, an activist from the Green Party, told Reuters.