Israeli Protestors: "Olmert, Go Home"
Israeli protestors swarmed Rabin Square in central Tel Aviv to voice their disgust with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's handling of 2006's incursion in to Lebanon. Olmert had appointed a commission to investigate the handling of the conflict, and the commission pointed the finger at its creator.
Tens of thousands of protesters streamed to a central Tel Aviv square after sundown Thursday, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert because of a scathing inquiry report about the way he ordered and handled last summer's bloody, costly but inconclusive war in Lebanon.
Olmert remained defiant, hoping to beat back a rising wave of calls to step down. A day after his popular foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, joined the chorus, Olmert's aides felt she had not dealt him a mortal political blow. But they admitted that a large-scale public protest campaign could bring him down.
Thursday's turnout appeared to top 100,000, though police refused to estimate the crowd's size.
It was made up of a cross-section of Israelis -- moderates and hard-liners, secular and religious, young and old, a rare mix symbolizing the widespread dissatisfaction with Olmert. Organizers claimed success, though it remained to be seen whether the outpouring of anger would be enough to oust the prime minister.
"Failures, Go Home!" read the banner behind the podium, where parents of soldiers killed in the conflict were to speak. Organizers decided not to allow politicians to address the crowd, to give the gathering a grass-roots nature, said Uzi Dayan, a retired general. "There are no politicians here, but this is a political event," he said.