Daphni Leef
Daphni LeefIsrael News photo: Yoni Kempinski

An attempt to rekindle last summer’s social protests failed on Friday as the leader of last year’s protests was arrested.

According to a report on Channel 2 News, tent protest leader Daphni Leef was arrested on Friday afternoon after she attempted to set up tents on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard, as she did last summer.

The report said that municipal inspectors tried to dismantle the encampment every time that Leef, who was accompanied by hundreds of other activists, tried to start setting it up. Several other activists were arrested along with Leef on suspicion of attacking the inspectors and attempting to block part of the road on Rothschild Boulevard to traffic.

Prior to her arrest, Leef told Channel 2 she decided to resume the protest because “the size of the outcry has not received an adequate response. People continue to collapse under the financial burden, the prices are still high and public services are still being privatized. The cost of living tears families apart and keeps people inside the circle of poverty, and that’s why we should protest in every way.”

Leef also claimed that “In Israel, freedom of speech is limited and we cannot even hang signs.”

Israel Police told Channel 2 on Friday that during the past week Leef came to a local police station and announced her plans to set up tents, but the demonstration did not receive the required approvals, meaning that it was illegal. The police added that it believes that the protesters were deliberately provocative in their actions.

In response to the activists’ claims that the municipal inspectors tried to dismantle and destroy the tents, the City of Tel Aviv told Channel 2, “The city of Tel Aviv-Yafo allows the use of public space for demonstrations and sees in the social protest a legitimate and right act. However, public space is designed for the use of the general public and the municipality is responsible for ensuring that there is a balance between the right to protest and maintaining public order and care for residents.”

The municipality added, “The city has already announced that it will not allow to set up tents on Rothschild Boulevard this year, in view of the difficulties and annoyances the residents had to face last year, something that has been recognized by the Court which has backed the municipality’s policy on the subject. Any request to use public space for protest purposes is individually considered, and many of those requests are granted.”

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.

Meir Indor of the Almagor Terror Victims’ Organization, who visited the tent encampment on Tel Aviv’s Rotschild Boulevard, said he heard the protesters talking about bringing down Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government.

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

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)