Public housing protesters arrested in Jerusalem

“Your children eat warm food at night while our children are showering in the sprinklers,” demonstrator shouts.

By MELANIE LIDMAN
August 7, 2011 23:33
2 minute read.
PROTESTERS HANG OUT in the capital’s Kikar Paris.

Jerusalem Tent 311. (photo credit: Melanie Lidman)

Ten demonstrators advocating for public housing were arrested in Jerusalem on Sunday morning in a protest in front of Amidar, the stateowned public housing company.

About 30 protesters from the tent city in Independence Park – named “No Choice” – were joined by a few students around 7:30 a.m. to demand more public housing.

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“Your children eat warm food at night while our children are showering in the sprinklers!” shouted one demonstrator. Police arrived on the scene after the demonstrators sat in front of the building and blocked the entrance, making a human chain. They chanted “Police state! Police state!” as riot police separated them.

Demonstrators claim the police used excessive force to pull them apart.

The demonstrators living in Independence Park are all single mothers or fathers, many of whom were evicted from apartments after failing to pay the rent, and are now homeless.

Some, such as Viki Vanunu, the leader of “No Choice” were living with family members after their evictions.

“These arrests didn’t scare us,” said Vanunu on Sunday afternoon, after she was released from custody. “We have no choice, we have no houses, we have nowhere to go. We can’t say, OK, we did it, now let’s go home. We’ll have to stay there,” she said, adding that there will be other similar protests in the coming weeks.

Independence Park now has around 30 tents, home to 10 families and a few single demonstrators. Some homeless people have also joined the tent city in the past few days.

“People have been waiting for seven years, some for 15 years, for an apartment,” said Amnon Tsur, a single father of eight children who was fired from his job as a taxi driver and forced to leave his apartment.

Tsur was one of the founders of the tent city in Independence Park, which started a few days after the first tents sprung up in Kikar Tzahal in Jerusalem three weeks ago.

“We want to wake people up that the establishment is taking advantage of the weak people,” he said.


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