Tel Aviv Officials Call to Dismantle Tent Protest Camps by Jewish Holidays

Pamphlet distributed to protest camps does not specify whether the city will dismantle tents by force if their owners do not take them down of their own accord.

Inspectors working on behalf of Tel Aviv City Council distributed notices at the city’s remaining social protest camps, offering assistance to activists in dismantling their tents. The notices, which had a flower attached to each one, were distributed at the Rothschild Boulevard and Nordau Boulevard tent camps.

Many of those remaining in the tent camps are not rushing to respond to City Council’s call to dismantle the tents, and declare that they do not intend to take down their tents in the coming days. City Council did not clarify whether they would actively dismantle the tents themselves if their owners do not take them down of their own accord.

Tent protests - Nir Kafri - August 2011
Nir Kafri

For the last seven weeks, tent camps have sprouted up along the boulevards of Tel Aviv and other cities, as part of a protest against the lack of affordable housing and the high cost of living in the country. The protests reached a climax on Saturday night with demonstrations that were attended by almost half a million people across the country.

“This week it was publicized that the protest leaders are dismantling the tent camps in order to continue the protest in other ways, and in fact dismantled many tent camps and even large tents on Rothschild Boulevard,” read the pamphlet distributed by City Council inspectors.

“As part of the city’s preparations for the upcoming (Jewish High) holidays, the city is preparing to clean the boulevards and upgrade the public spaces, with the intention of completing these tasks by the eve of Rosh Hashana [the Jewish New Year],” continued the pamphlet.

The pamphlet, which includes contact information for various departments in the municipality offering the protesters help with the dismantling and counseling advice should they desire it, also said that City Council would help establish four ‘speakers corner’ discussion areas, complete with chairs and cushions, located on the boulevards.

On Sunday morning in the Haifa suburb of Kiryat Motzkin municipal workers removed the remaining tents when the encampment was empty. Activists later returned, said they had not abandoned the site and put their tents back up. Yesterday they acceded to the police's request to leave for good, but were harshly critical of the municipality's conduct.

In the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam, eviction orders were issued against the encampment opposite city hall, but the occupants said they would not leave so easily. At the protest camp in Holon's Jesse Cohen neighborhood, where many of the activists are homeless, eviction orders were issued against improvised wooden structures.