Israel's Social Protesters Erect 'Tower of Justice' on Coastal Highway

One activist says he will not descend from the tower until housing demands are met.

Social protest activists erected Tuesday morning a compound in the spirit of the 1930s-era tower-and-stockade settlements, alongside the coastal highway, near Kibbutz Yakum and the Ronit Ranch. The compound, which they have called Migdal Zedek (Tower of Justice), was set up after nightfall Monday, at the initiative of the social coalition. It includes a wooden wall and a watchtower.

Signs posted on the site call for public housing. Approximately 30 activists were on the scene, including Zeev Grauer of the gas-price protest, Eran Brill of Beit Ha'am - last summer's makeshift community center on Rothschild Boulevard, and members of Jerusalem's Hamaabara (the transit camp) Campaign for Housing Rights. Several tents have been erected inside the walls, and an office is operating out of a shipping container. Two policemen who arrived on the scene requested that the activists not get any closer to the coastal highway, but did not ask them to evacuate.

"We created this project as a symbol," says Gad Haran, the initiator of Migdal Zedek. "We have come to explain to the people of Israel and its leaders that once there was an ethos here of redeeming the land and of settlement. We must keep on moving ahead, and have come to speak about social justice and social rights. The basic social right is the right to housing. Lands of the state and of the Jewish National Fund were intended for building homes, and not for speculating and filling holes in the budget. It is the government's responsibility to build housing for the people of Israel. We don’t want to clash with the mayors of cities. This is a barren field without any use, and we intend to hold onto it as long as we can."

Also present at the site is social activist Jacky Edri, who is known for his activity on behalf of contract workers and the hunger strike he waged against the privatization of water. Edri declared that he would not descend from the tower until the housing demands were met.

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