Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square last night calling for a change of government in Israel, under the slogan "Israel Wants Change". The rally was organized by the "Million Hands" movement, according to which it was attended by about 80,000 people.
The main speaker at the rally was former Mossad chief Meir Dagan. "Israel is a country surrounded by enemies, but the enemies don't scare me," Dagan said, "What scares me is our leadership. I am afraid at the lack of vision and the loss of direction. I am afraid at the hesitation and stagnation. And above all, I am afraid at the crisis of leadership, the most severe we have ever had.
"Benjamin Netanyahu has been prime minister for six years continuously, six years in which Israel has been more stuck than ever before. Six years in which he has not led any genuine move to change the face of the region or create a better future."
Referring to Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip last summer, Dagan said, "On his watch, Israel conducted its longest military campaign since the War of Independence, putting the home front under fire. For a whole summer, Israelis sat in shelters while thousands of rockets were fired at them. We paid a heavy price in blood for a campaign that ended with nothing. Zero deterrence, zero diplomatic achievements. A campaign that only put the clock back until the next round of fighting.
"On his watch, our relations with the US have deteriorated. The health system is collapsing. The housing crisis has reached a peak. Social gaps continue to widen. The distance from the periphery to the center has never been greater. One child in three in Israel is poor. 40% of Israelis can't make ends meet."
Dagan concluded by calling on Israelis to vote "for a different way, a different leadership."
Michal Kasten-Keidar, widow of the late Lt.-Col. Dolev Keidar, who was killed in Operation Protective Edge, also spoke at the rally, saying, "A whole election campaign is being conducted here without mention of the blood that was spilt here in the summer. I have come here to ask you, when you go to the polls, to vote for the person who will prevent the next war, for the person who is prepared to do everything possible to save further casualties."
Other speakers at the rally included Major Genral (Res.) Amiram Levin, who was commander of IDF Northern Command and deputy head of the Mossad, social activists, and representatives of the tent housing protest.
The Likud party dismissed last night's rally as an orchestrated campaign to topple the government funded by contributions from overseas. MK Miri Regev said that Meir Dagan still felt frustrated by the fact that Netanyahu had not extended his term as head of the Mossad, and that his attack on the prime minister was personally motivated.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 8, 2015
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