Israel Police Deploys Large Forces in Central Tel Aviv as Protesters Gather for Mass Rally

A day after 12 people were violently arrested during an attempt to rekindle last year's protest movement, thousands plan to gather in Rotschild Blv. and Habima Square.

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A large number of police officers were stationed on Saturday in central Tel Aviv as social activists prepared to march in protest of Friday' arrests. 12 people were taken into custody as police used what the protesters called excessive force.

Under the banner "Emergency protest! Returning the power to the people," activists plan to march on Rotchild Blvd, the site of last year's most prominent "tent city," and hold a rally at Habima Theater Square. They plan to join forces with another demonstration in support of Israel's gay community, which has been attacked by several Israeli politicians in recent days.

The organizers have not asked for a license to hold the protest.

On Friday, Daphni Leef, one of the leaders of Israel's social justice protest movement, was arrested by police during a demonstration on 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 attack them, and the police who were at the site, Israel Police said. They cursed, spat, and threw things at the police, the Police claimed.

Police arrest social protest leader Daphne Leef in Tel Aviv, June 23, 2012. Credit: Alon Ron

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