Meatless Monday: Largest ever animal rights march gather thousands in Tel Aviv

Thousands of animal rights protesters took part in a march in Tel Aviv over the weekend as a coalition of groups organized the event to draw attention to animals everywhere.

The march was held to demand justice and compassion for all animals.

Shira Hertzanu, head of media relations at Anonymous for Animal Rights, said up to 30,000 marchers were expected.

Hertzanu continued: “We’re talking about all kinds of animals – animals in the food industry, animals in the wild, and cats and dogs. All the people who are coming here tonight are caring people who don’t want to see animals being harmed.”

Hertzanu, who in 2015 filed a joint petition demanding enhanced animal rights to the High Court with Let the Animals Live, said the protesters have specific demands of the government regarding legislation to improve conditions for livestock, stray animals, and pets.

“We are demanding the end of live exports of cows and sheep to Israel from Europe and Australia, which are packed together for weeks in terrible conditions and go through this agonizing journey only to be slaughtered in Israel,” she said.

“Another demand is that Israel bans the sale of fur,” Hertzanu continued.

“Israel was almost the first country in the world to ban fur, but that bill was canceled, so there are a few countries that have already progressed, and we want to be among them. There is absolutely no need to skin animals alive just for clothing.”

Hertzanu said a third demand is that penalties for animal cruelty are more severe.

There are laws to protect animals, but they are not really being enforced…It can be animals like cats and dogs, or animals in the food industry. We have a lot of exposure that shows a lot of harm at slaughter houses, but nobody ever gets punished. We have seen that the punishments are not enough; they’re not really deterring people [from animal abuse].”

A final demand by the protesters is that the government expand its budget for spaying and neutering, and to institute a unilateral no-kill policy for healthy animals at all shelters.

“The problem is that the state doesn’t fund this enough to stop the suffering of the stray cats and dogs,” she said.

Omri Paz, CEO of Vegan Friendly Organization, echoed Hertzanu’s sentiments, adding that he hoped the protest would encourage people to cease eating meat and purchasing leather and fur products.

We hope that just for one day – even if for just a couple hours – all of Israel and all the press will stop and just give the stage and spotlight to show the problems facing animals at factory farms, and any other abuse or exploitation of dogs, cats or other animals,” he said.

“The main message is that it is in our hands and we have the ability to affect change, so it doesn’t have to come from the government,” Paz added. “It can happen by making people more active and aware of the subject, so that’s why we’re out in the streets tonight.”

Noting that the vast majority of people care about animals, Paz said he hopes individuals who have become desensitized to institutionalized cruelty against them will take action.

Photo credit: Facebook Animal Liberation

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