Hunderds of demonstrators protesting the housing crisis in Tel Aviv clashed with police forces Saturday, ahead of the planned eviction of the Hatikva neighborhood encampment, scheduled for Sunday morning.
Over 600 people rallied in the southern Tel Aviv neighborhood, chanting "The people demand social justice." The protesters torched bins and attempted to block one of the exits leading to the Ayalon Highway. The police detained at least 23 demonstrators, including social activist Stav Shaffir, for disrupting the peace. According to the police, the gathering was illegal.
Prior to her arrest Stav Shaffir remarked: "The police is very aggressive. The more the protests are indentified with weaker communities, the more violent the police is."
Housing protest leader, Daphni Leef, said she could not have thought of a better way to celebrate her 26th birthday, as she spoke before the crowd. "I'm hopeful that tomorrow someone will show compassion and stop this thing. The situation became unbearable," she stated.
"Many people who have homes came to protest alongside those who don't,” Shaffir wrote on her Facebook page shortly after she was detained.
"We have been fighting for the future of our country for six months now. With no violence, only with the power of partnership and hope. It's not easy and it will only get harder, but eventually, we'll get to see a better place – for everyone. Amen.”
Protesting evacuation of Hatikva tent city (Photo: Yaron Brener)
Social protest leader Regev Kuntas also criticized the police's conduct: “We came here to fight with the encampment – people came from all over Israel. If we were haredim protesting in Jerusalem or 'price tag' settlers, the police wouldn't be arresting people so fast.”
Itzik Amsalem, leader of the Hatikva social protest, said: "They are supposed to evict us tomorrow. The court has given its approval to the city council to evict and starting tomorrow the interim order given to us by the court is up and they can evict us. There is no contact with them."
Tel-Aviv Jaffa City Council member Sharon Luzon participated in the demonstration, calling out against the city's mayor. "This is a cynical act done by Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, who's joined forces with a deaf prime minister and a housing minister who has forgotten where he came from," said Luzon.
Not just for the rich. Protesting for justice (Photo: Yaron Brener)
"We took to the streets to demand social justice and along the way discovered those who lack humanistic justice. In a place where citizens are left in the cold and rain, there will never be sunshine and light," he said.
The Tel Aviv municipality announced they hope the tent city dwellers will evacuate on their own free will without forcing the city to evict them forcefully. "The decision to evict the tents was made in light of the arrival of winter, which strengthens the need for a roof, a shower and a warm bed to sleep in."
In the past six months the encampment has been home to the single mothers, families, parents, children, elderly and the homeless.
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