Police arrested 40 people in Tel Aviv Wednesday afternoon during a prolonged protest outside City Hall that grew violent. The protesters were incensed over the city's decision to clear out the protest tent towns that it tolerated all summer long.
Empty tents were taken down and hauled away by police and municipal inspectors, and other tent dwellers received notices to clear out with their tents by 11:00 p.m..
Channel 2 Television News reported that security around Mayor Ron Huldai has been beefed up, following the receipt of information regarding intent to hurt him.
Huldai was escorted out of City Hall by police as angry protesters focused their rage on him.
Yigal Rambam, a protest leader, accused "Huldai's thugs" of conducting "real looting." He said that the inspectors showed up just before dawn and threw entire tents into garbage trucks, along with the personal equipment that was inside them This included books and even laptop computers, he alleged.
The municipality explained that the decision to take down the tents after protest leaders announced that the tent phase of the protest was over. It noted that residents who live near the tent cities have been complaining about noise, drugs and finding human waste in their courtyards.
The municipality accused some protesters of calling city officials "Nazis" and said it would not hesitate to issue eviction orders in order to bring the avenues of Tel Aviv back to their usual state.
The violent protest took place exactly at the spot where Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin was assassinated in 1995. Some would see this fact as ironic, since the protesters are identified with the Israeli left wing, which has quoted Rabin's final speech thousands of times in denouncing what it says is a nationalist propensity to violence. Rabin said that "violence eats away at the foundations of democracy."