TA boots housing protesters from building over ‘safety'

Former city engineer disagrees: Derelict structure a training facility for police and not dangerous.

August 23, 2011 21:10
1 minute read.
"Occupied" building on Frug Street

"Occupied" building on Frug Street 311. (photo credit: Ben Hartman)

An abandoned building taken over by squatters yesterday has been used for years as a training facility for the police YASSAM riot unit.

The revelation, first reported by Walla on Tuesday, casts doubt on the Tel Aviv Municipality’s claim that the building was forcefully evacuated by YASSAM officers on Tuesday because it was dangerous and posed a threat to the squatters who were inside.

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On Monday night, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai issued a statement saying that while he and the municipality have supported the housing protests so far, “unfortunately today a red line was crossed when a small minority of the protesters decided to break the law and infiltrate a dangerous public building.

These people exploited the credit that the public gave their protest.”

Also Monday, the city’s spokesman’s office said “the infiltration [of the building] is illegal and is a criminal offense.

In addition, the building in question is dangerous and the infiltrators are placing their lives at risk for the sake of cheap provocation.”

According to Yisrael Godovitch, who was a civil engineer for the city when the building became abandoned in 1999, the municipality’s justification for evacuating the squatters was a lie.

“The fact is that the building has been used for several years by YASSAM to carry out their training, and if it’s dangerous, then why do they allow them to train there? They jump around in there and run all over the place. Saying it’s dangerous is a flat out lie.”

The evacuation of the 3,000- sq.m. building, which squatters had named “the people’s house” and referred to as “a liberated building” was carried out early Tuesday morning. Three activists were arrested during the evacuation but no injuries were reported.

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