Tent dwellers, municipality agree to dialog

Residents complain that Rothschild Boulevard tent dwellers walk around naked, defecate, inject drugs in public and in some cases smear human feces on cars.

September 14, 2011 04:00
3 minute read.
Protesters sit outside tents in Tel Aviv

Protesters sit outside tents in Tel Aviv 521 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)

Forty-eight residents of Rothschild Boulevard requested on Sunday afternoon to be added as a party to the petition over the tent encampment, on the side of the Tel Aviv Municipality.

In their request, filed on their behalf by attorney Karin Sarnitzky, the residents painted a picture of public disorder on Rothschild Boulevard, where they say tent dwellers walk around naked, defecate and inject drugs in public, and in some cases have even smeared human feces on cars belonging to local residents.

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They also complain of an epidemic of rats, fleas and flies and added that some residents are claiming there is now an outbreak of scalp ringworm near Marmorek Street.

“Drug addicts go into the courtyards of apartment blocks, inject drugs in front of parents and children, leave syringes, smoke marijuana. They defecate in the street in front of residents, throw used toilet paper and condoms everywhere,” the 48 residents said.

The residents, who describe themselves as working people who live and raise children in the area, add that they support the ideas behind the protest, and say that many of them also took part in demonstrations.

However, they say the continued encampment now poses a significant health and safety hazard for local people.

“These days, the Boulevard is populated mainly by drug addicts, alcoholics and religious sects,” the residents said. “The benches and playground facilities are populated by eccentrics, people walk around partly or fully nude, they bathe in the courtyards of apartment blocks, smoke in the lobbies, scream and sing at all hours, often with megaphones, vendors sell illegal wares, fires burn constantly, garbage cans are constantly overflowing, and there are piles of discarded clothing, tools, mattresses and sofas everywhere.”

The residents also complain that for the past two months, the protest encampment has blocked their access to public spaces, including children’s play areas and bike lanes.

Increased traffic around the protest has reduced limited parking spaces and caused congestion, they say – and ask that the court issue an injunction to evacuate the camp.

Also on Sunday afternoon, the Tel Aviv Municipality served to the Tel Aviv District Court its response to the petition filed last week by members of the Rothschild Boulevard tent encampment against the municipality’s plans to evacuate the tents.

In its response, the municipality denies that evacuating the tents harms protesters’ freedom of expression or their right to protest.

The municipality said that it has assisted the protesters, including by helping them hold their Round Tables event on Saturday night, as well as permitting the tents to remain for the past two months.

“The municipality supports the social protest and has enabled it, while balancing the other interests it must also protect,” the response noted.

The protesters had asked in their petition to be permitted to keep “tent villages” for an unspecified period of time, until a general solution is found for the country’s socioeconomic problems, the municipality noted.

The municipality said that in removing the tents it was not seeking to prevent the protests but had moved to clean up public spaces, and added that many of the tents on Rothschild Boulevard were now empty and unused and that the petitioners themselves were no longer living in them.

The municipality’s response also noted that since the tents went up two months ago, Tel Aviv City Hall has received many complaints from local residents about noise, sanitation and traffic problems.

A hearing on the matter will be held in the Tel Aviv District Court on Tuesday, before Judge Dr. Kobi Vardi.

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