A south Tel Aviv cafe popular with leftwing activists was issued a closure
notice by police Tuesday morning, hours after a large-scale police and Border
Police force descended on the cafe in response to what they said was a noise
complaint – even as those present say the cafe was closed at the
The deployment of police to the Albi Cafe – captured in a video
posted on Tuesday – included at least 8 police cruisers lined up outside the
small cafe on Gdud Ha’ivri Street in south Tel Aviv.
Tel Aviv Police said
Tuesday that the officers were dispatched after a municipal inspector called to
ask for back-up after he was refused entry and locked out of the cafe, while
another officer was locked in.
Police said the inspector arrived
following a noise complaint by neighbors, though those present at the cafe
maintain the cafe was closed at the time of the incident and employees were
cleaning up inside.
The incident Monday night came about two weeks after
activist and patron Ortal Ben Dayan was arrested by the Border Police at the
cafe after she said she tried to prevent Border Police officers from harassing
an Arab family outside the cafe. Ben Dayan was arrested for refusing to identify
herself to police, and the arresting officer was later removed from duty for
insulting Ben Dayan as a “retarded leftist.”
A number of people on
Tuesday accused policed of trying to settle a grudge by intimidating the cafe,
with MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) writing on her Facebook page Tuesday morning
that “the combination of the night arrests and the arrest of Ortal Ben Dayan
give the impression of unprecedented maltreatment.”
“This entails the
hounding of a cafe, its work and its guests because of the political struggle of
south Tel Aviv and the periphery that they represent. The message of police is:
Don’t mess with us. Our message is: This hounding won’t pass,” she
Zandberg also posted a picture of the closure warrant, which
accuses the cafe of selling alcohol without a warrant, of lacking the proper
permits and engineering plan approved by the city and police, lacking approved
electrical systems, a security plan, a firefighters permit, and a gas permit,
among other licensing requirements.
The warrant was issued at 4:40 a.m.
and is valid until September 24, 2013.
Attorney Gaby Luskey, who is
representing the two employees arrested Tuesday night, said that the business
was closed at the time and that the cafe had all of the required municipal
permits to operate.
She said that she believes the closure to be illegal
and part of a continued police tendency to harass local activists in south Tel
She added: “It’s bizarre and illegal that in an area of high
violence the police could free up so many officers in order to come and stop
this cafe, supposedly because of a noise complaint. They don’t bring this much
manpower when there’s a murder. This is a continued policy and operational
approach of using violence and business closures toward those who dare to speak
out against the establishment.
In a response on Tuesday morning, police
said that “after receiving complaints from citizens of noise coming from the
cafe, a city inspector came by and asked the employee present to turn down the
noise. She refused and the inspector called for police assistance. A cop car
arrived with an inspector and a police officer. The officer went into the
business and explained to the girl that she must identify herself. She continued
to refuse, and then a separate woman exploited the situation to lock the
The inspector who was locked outside called the dispatch and said
there was an officer inside the cafe and cop cars arrived at the scene.
Eventually two women were taken into custody to the police
Appoximately 200 people took part in a protest outside the Albi
Cafe on Tuesday evening against actions taken by the police. After gathering
outside the restaurant, they marched toward the Tel Aviv police headquarters.
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