Israel's Last Tent Camp From Summer Protests to Come Down Next Month

Tent camp activists from the northern town of Kiryat Shmona reach agreement with city hall to take down their tents by February 15.

Israel's last remaining tent encampment from last summer's social protests will be dismantled next month, after activists and city authorities in the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona reached an agreement on Thursday.

Kiryat Shmona's tent camp remains the last one standing, out of dozens which were set up during last summer's country-wide social protests. It is now scheduled to be dismantled by February 15.

Kiryat Shmona tent camp - Yaron Kaminsky - Jan 2012
Yaron Kaminsky

Two weeks ago, the municipality issued an eviction order for the tent camp, which was challenged by the camp's activists in court.

According to the agreement reached on Thursday, the two sides will conduct a dialogue regarding what form the group's protest activities will take once the tents come down. If the sides fail to reach an agreement, the activists will be able to take the city back to court.

The decline of the social protest movement, along with the onset of winter and the beginning of the academic year, had already thinned the ranks of the tent camp in recent months. Currently, only seven activists still spend their nights in the tents, braving the cold and rain. Some 20 other young people hold working groups on social issues at the camp every week, along with a weekly demonstration every Thursday.

"The tent camp is the physical expression of the spirit of change brought by students to the Galilee," Yossi Malka, the director of Tel-Hai College said last week. He added that the government needs to understand that social change must begin with strengthening the country's periphery.

According to Deputy Mayor Igal Buzaglo, however, the camp has become a dangerous environmental and health hazard. "Illegal buildings and constructions were built there, as well as [pirated] connections to water and electricity. The municipality is the responsible party, and if, God forbid, something happens to someone, we will be held accountable," he said.