Municipal cleanup crews began breaking down social-protest tent cities across Tel
Aviv on Wednesday, removing empty tents and assorted clutter.
locations in question included not only the main Rothschild Boulevard campsite
but also those on Nordau and Ben-Gurion boulevards.
South of Tel Aviv,
eight or so shacks set up at the tent city in the Jesse Cohen neighborhood of
Holon were demolished by mid-morning.
The majority of the Rothschild site
– the center of the movement since the first tents were planted at its northern
end on July 14 – was clean by 9 a.m., with a high density of tents remaining
only from Habimah Square to the corner of Sheinkin Street, three blocks
of protest movement launch 'second
Activists to announce new
steps in social protests
The clearance of Rothschild came in a sort of sleight of hand on
the part of the municipality, which only a day earlier had sent clerks bearing
roses and fliers, telling protesters that the city would clear out the campsite
and others across the city by the High Holy Days, at the end of the month. The
fliers also offered the municipality’s help to protesters looking for new
Less than 24 hours later, the clean-up crews arrived at the
boulevard at 5 a.m. and began walking north from the corner of Allenby Street,
clearing out empty tents one at a time.
Since the southern part of the
boulevard had the fewest residents, it took more than two hours for word to get
out about the evictions. By the time the press arrived at around 7:30 a.m., the
tents that had been on the southern half of the boulevard seemed a distant
memory, and in their place teams of Sudanese and Eritrean migrants swept the
sidewalks as Arab- Israeli managers gave them instructions in
Meanwhile, during the evictions at the Jesse Cohen tent city, the
mood was one of rage – but the violent response that had been promised by
protesters, and expected by the journalists, did not materialize.
journalists mobbed the scene on Wednesday morning expecting fire, tear gas and
truncheon- swinging riot police.
Instead, the families and couples that
have been living at the site for a month and a half watched contractors hired by
city hall as they methodically broke apart and carried away the wooden shacks
they had built. Three arrests were made by police shortly after they arrived,
but the fracas was shortlived and the contractors quickly got to work.
have nowhere to go, I’ll stay here and we’ll rebuild,” said Amos Avraham, a
homeless former heroin addict.
Avraham also took special offense that the
authorities sent Israeli Arabs to break down their homes. “They sent Arabs to
destroy our houses,” which added insult to injury, he said.
arguments erupted between those saying they should set tires alight in the
streets and kick things up a notch, and those who said that would only lead to
arrests, and that a better solution was to wait until late afternoon to
By the late morning, however, the Holon tent city whose eviction
was expected to lead to bloodshed ended with a whimper, making rebuilding appear
The evictions came weeks after the tent city on Rothschild had
become largely deserted during the daytime and bereft of the vibrant nightlife,
jam sessions and all-night discussions that had been a fixture for the first
month and a half or so of its existence.
The tent city had become largely
a ghost town in the daytime, with most of the population apparently homeless,
and a smattering of drug addicts.
A number of people whose tents were
taken on Wednesday complained they had held valuables that were thrown away by
In an announcement on its Facebook page, Tel Aviv City Hall
said, “Following the protest leaders’ announcement that the tent-city phase of
the protests has ended, and the clearance by protesters of more than 600 tents
across the city, the municipality on Wednesday morning began cleaning Rothschild
Boulevard, Ben-Gurion Boulevard and Nordau Boulevard of abandoned and empty
tents that were presenting a health risk.”
Mayor Ron Huldai also told
Army Radio the campsites “could not become a permanent fixture.
doesn’t work that way,” he said. “They cannot continue to control the public
space. We’re not evicting people, we are taking away tents that are already
empty,” Huldai said.
Leaders of the tent-city movement issued a statement
in which they rebuked the mayor for carrying out the evictions a day after he
said he would give them until the High Holy Days.
under the cover of darkness – as in a covert military operation – to strike a
blow at the largest social protest in the history of the country, as if
activists were enemies of the state and not law-abiding citizens,” tent-city
spokesman Roee Neuman said in a statement.
Neuman said the municipality
took the National Student Union’s announcement that it was dismantling its
section of the Rothschild site as an indication that the protest had ended,
despite the fact that the union represents “only a tiny fraction of
Despite Huldai’s assertion only uninhabited tents were
removed, some tents were removed that contained expensive personal equipment
belonging to activists still living there, Neuman said.