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Israel Tent Protests Called Off After Eilat Attacks

Organizers of campaign against high living costs cancel weekend's demonstrations to 'join the families in mourning'

Harriet Sherwood

A tent protest camp in Beersheva, one of dozens that have been established around Israel. Photograph: Menahem Kahana/AFP

Organizers of the tent protests which have enthralled Israel for more than a month have called off demonstrations planned for this weekend following the attacks in the south of the country.

A series of marches and rallies was due to be held around the country with the main focus in Jerusalem. This weekend will be the first for five weeks with no Saturday night demonstrations.

In a statement, the National Union of Israeli Students said the protest movement was "lowering its head on this difficult day, joins the families in mourning, and wishes the wounded a speedy recovery". NUIS leader Itzik Shmueli told Army Radio: "We decided given the events to cancel them." He said the campaign for "social justice" and over the high cost of housing, childcare, fuel, electricity and food would continue.

Itai Gutler, head of the Hebrew University student union, told the Jerusalem Post: "I don't think this has any connection that will affect the revolution. The nation isn't going to stop because of this terrorist attack. The revolution will continue, because this won't change things in the country."

Demonstrations around the issue of social justice have drawn hundreds of thousands of people on to the streets over the past few weeks in the biggest protests seen in Israel for many years.

Dozens of tent encampments have been established around the country. The core protest, based in the affluent Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, has grown to more than 500 tents.

The protests have attracted the support of around 90% of the population, according to opinion polls, and have seriously rattled Binyamin Netanyahu's government.

Some participants have said only a major security event would deflect attention away from the protests.

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