Hundreds amass on Tel Aviv's Rothschild Blvd. in bid to revive social protests
Demonstrators attempt to erect tents, but city inspectors prevent them from doing so; police arrest protest leader Daphni Leef and 11 other protesters.
Daphni Leef, one of the leaders of Israel's social justice protest movement, was arrested by police on Friday afternoon during a demonstration on Tel Aviv's Rothschild Boulevard.
The demonstration, which began around noon, was meant to revive the social justice protests that swept Israel last summer. A further 11 protesters were also arrested.
Several hundred demonstrators carried tents to the site, which they attempted to set up along the street. However, municipal inspectors and police prevented them from placing the tents on the ground and began arresting protesters.
Leef was dragged by force into a waiting police car, prompting hundreds of demonstrators to block the road with their bodies in an attempt to prevent the car from leaving the site.
The protesters knocked over trash cans and shouted chants criticizing Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
However, after several moments the police car managed to leave the scene, with Leef inside.
In response, Israel Police said that the protest was illegal, and that the demonstrators refused the requests of municipal inspectors to halt it. Protesters started to attacked them, and the police who were at the site, Israel Police said. They cursed, spat, and threw things at the police, the Police claimed.
Israel Police said that the protesters blocked traffic in the road by staging a sit-in, and disturbed cars that were passing through the area. The protesters that were arrested were taken in for questioning, the Police said, adding that they take the incident very seriously, and will not permit further illegal protests to take place, where police are attacked and peace is disturbed in a public place. Israel Police added that they will ensure people can exercise the right to demonstrate, as happened during last summer's social protests, as long as the protests are legal.
Opposition leader Shelly Yachimovich said in response that many witnesses had reported that police used violence against demonstrators, and that the government was determined not to let the protest take place.
In July 2011, Leef led a group of young people who set up several tents on Rothschild Boulevard, in protest against the high cost of living in Israel.
That act sparked a massive protest movement which swept Israel for several months, with tent encampments sprouting up in cities and towns throughout the country and weekly demonstrations that grew to include hundreds of thousands of people.
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