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Social Protest Returns as Activists Set Up Tents in Tel Aviv

Social protest activists set up some 20 tents in a park near the central train station in Tel Aviv, this time approved by the city.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 6/27/2012, 5:17 AM

Tent city protester with laptop
Tent city protester with laptop
Flash 90

Social protest activists set up about 20 tents on Tuesday in a park near the central train station in Tel Aviv.

The tents were set up with the approval of the City of Tel Aviv-Yafo. Army Radio reported that the municipality has agreed to provide the protesters with toilet stalls, water supply, lighting and cleaning crews.

An attempt to set up unapproved tents on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard last Friday resulted in the arrest of tent protest leader Daphni Leef and several other activists.  

Leef’s arrest sparked outrage, and protesters took to the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday night, breaking bank windows and battling each other as anarchy hijacked the “social justice” movement.

Demonstrators experienced first-hand police violence that usually is reserved for nationalist protests, but unlike reports of right-wing protests, mainstream media were generally sympathetic to the protesters.

Police Commissioner Lt. Gen. Yohanan Danino said Tuesday that the violence in Tel Aviv was not a spontaneous grassroots protest but "a pre-planned series of violent offenses." The protesters planned to place their social agenda in the public spotlight "at any price," he said, "but the price is too heavy for the state of Israel."

"There is nothing more absurd than the accusation that the police will not allow a protest," insisted Danino. "We will do everything so that the protests take place, but freedom of demonstration must not turn into chaos."

Last summer the protesters repeatedly rejected claims that they are extreme leftists attempting to bring down the Israeli government. The whistle was blown on them when the Zionist Im Tirtzu organization said it was pulling out from the social protests after finding a link between the protesters and the radical leftist NIF organization.

Im Tirtzu revealed that Leef worked for NIF as a video editor. Other leaders are members of the Arab-affiliated Hadash and Balad parties, and another is a member of the Anarchist’s movement, the organization said.

A message posted to the NIF website in January revealed its involvement in the social protests.