A protest against the planned evacuation of a tent encampment in a Tel Aviv neighborhood escalated on Saturday night into clashes between protesters and the police and to the arrests of dozens of activists.
The encampment is located in south Tel Aviv’s Hatikva neighborhood. It was set up during last summer’s social justice protests but, unlike the central encampment on Rothschild Boulevard which was mostly made up of protesters who have homes and were simply protesting the high costs of housing, this camp contains people who are homeless.
The protest was initiated after rumors began floating that the Tel Aviv Municipality was planning to evacuate the tents, leaving occupants with nowhere to go. The protesters claimed police used unjustified and unprecedented violence in trying to disperse the demonstration. One of those detained was Stav Shaffir, who was one of the leaders of last summer’s protests.
“The police were very violent,” Nava Halevi Zakin, one of the inhabitants of the Hatikva tent neighborhood, told Arutz Sheva. “They beat us up. It was very sad.”
She said the inhabitants of the tents should learn from the residents of Judea and Samaria, who protested against the charges of espionage against some of them and were able to get the charges lifted.
“I think that unless we escalate the protest we won’t make headlines,” Halevi Zakin said. “Only then the protest will become bigger.”
Another inhabitant of the tents compared the encampment to a Jewish community in Judea and Samaria and called on the residents to join the inhabitants in the protest, claiming this would bring about unity.
“This is a settlement, just like you are settling in Judea and Samaria,” he said. “In order for us to sit together and for you to say that you are an inseparable part of the State of Israel, you have to come here. Today. The high cost of living affects you. The taxes affect you. The government’s treatment affects you.”
Halevi Zakin said she believes the police’s violence will only intensify the protest.
“The more violence they use against us and the more they prevent us from protesting, the stronger we become,” she said.
For now, the tent encampment is still up, despite reports that the city was planning to evacuate it on Sunday morning. Halevi Zakin said she believes the delay in the evacuation was caused by the hype and the media attention the protest received. She added that she believes the city will wait until the situation calms down before evacuating the encampment.
Asaf, an activist who participated in Saturday night’s protest, said he too hopes that the violence will strengthen the struggle.
“I hope people see this and realize that the people here are normal people who are only trying to protect their house,” he said. “When they see how the government and the police treat us they’ll come out.”