(Thomas Schlijper)

Some 300,000 people took to the streets in Israel on Sunday to protest soaring housing prices and call for political reforms in the country’s biggest public protests to date.

While the biggest rallies took place in Tel Aviv, where tens of thousands marched to the government building, smaller rallies were held in Modi’in, Haifa, Nes Tziona and other towns.

Some protesters demanded Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s resignation, while others held signs that read: “Here comes the welfare state.”

The demonstrations have been dubbed “J-14,” in a nod to the day their protests began, and following the naming pattern of many countries in the Arab Spring.

But Sunday’s protests may have also had something in common with the recent riots in Canada after the Canucks lost the Stanley World Cup.

As evening fell in Tel Aviv, Dutch photographer Thomas Schlijper captured a couple kissing as thousands gathered in the streets below them.

Was the photo real?

Romantics took heart in June after the the passionate kiss of a couple, unperturbed by riots filling the streets around them, turned out to be genuine:


( Getty Images /Rich Lam)

At the time, the Vancouver riot kiss was compared to the to the famous photo of a sailor kissing a young nurse on V-J Day in Times Square on Aug.14, 1945.

That photo’s mystery — who was the sailor? who the nurse? — has never been solved.

BlogPost is trying now to verify that the Tel Aviv photo is real.

UPDATE: 3:55 p.m.

I spoke to Schlijper over the phone from Tel Aviv about the photo he took, which he insists is very much genuine.

Watch the below video Schlijper took that evening, and skip to 50 seconds in to see the kiss:

Here is what Schlijper told me about that night:

On that night, I was on the main boulevard, and I climbed with many people into a building, and on top of the roof... I felt like a king up there, looking down on everything. I was photographing the protests when all of the sudden these two people in front of me started kissing.

There was really no light, and it was hard to see what I was doing. But I wanted to get at least try and get their silhouettes.

I think they represent the atmosphere in Tel Aviv that night. There was no violence... and everything was calm. It was a sweet, really hippie kind of atmosphere that night. And I think they represented that.

Usually the atmosphere in Israel is very stressed, and people can mistake it for rude. But these protests were a kind of softening up. It was amazing to look over the crowds and see people just talking, not fighting. Instead of shouting, it was like 10 buses of school children gathering together. I never felt afraid.

I don’t know who these kissing people are. I wish I did. I gave them my card and I hope they contact me. But I think they were a couple for a long time [before this]. They looked very comfortable with each other.

I think in the moment they felt something... like euphoria.

View Schlijper’s photo blog here and the kissing photo here.

The protests started when a group of young Israelis camped on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv on June 15 to protest rising housing costs. Tent camps have since appeared in every major city in Israel.