Jerusalem Police Evict anti-Netanyahu Protesters After Disagreements Over Camp's Location

Police and city inspectors dismantle encampment, as protesters argue city hall 'wanted us to be in a completely hidden spot' in Independence Park

Aaron Rabinowitz
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Police officers dismantling the protest encampment in Jerusalem,. August 7, 2020.
Police officers dismantling the protest encampment in Jerusalem, August 7, 2020. Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Aaron Rabinowitz

Police officers and Jerusalem municipal inspectors dismantled on Friday a protest camp set up by demonstrators opposing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government, despite negotiations between protest leaders and the city.

The police confiscated tents, mattresses, sleeping bags and other belongings from protesters in the city's Independect Park, and a confrontation broke out at the site, not far from the prime minister’s official residence.

Some protesters tried to stop police officers by sitting on the road and blocking a truck that was carrying their belongings.

Evacuation of the Independence Park protest camp, August 7, 2020.Credit: Ariana Melamed

The evacuation took place even though city hall announced Thursday that it would provide the protesters with an alternative spot inside the park.

The city said that the protesters could gather and sleep in this area – but without setting up an encampment. It added it held talks with protest leaders over the past week, but claimed the demonstrators didn't stick to the area assigned to them.

One of the protesters, Avi Ofer, told Haaretz that officers "proposed we stay at a far-away corner of the past, with no one really seeing us and without the tents. And even that, they wouldn't give in writing... They wanted us to be in a completely hidden spot."

When inspectors showed up on Friday, Ofer said, "they didn't even say a word or present an order. They just got there like a gang."

The police have yet to comment.

Over the past few weeks, some of the protesters against Netanyahu have settled in the park, and this is the second time the police and city inspectors have come to dismantle the camp.

On Thursday, a demonstration was held across from the prime minister’s residence with hundreds of people protesting. The police did not allow the demonstrators to block nearby Paris Square, and the demonstration ended quietly within a few hours.

Another, larger demonstration is scheduled for Saturday night near Netanyahu's official residence.

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