'Police acted violently against protesters'
LAST UPDATED: 01/08/2012 10:19
Social protest leader Stav Shaffir among 23 arrested in tent city protest, says officers "carried me while I was choking."
Protesters block street in south Tel Aviv Photo: Or Yizhar and Orly Barlev
Police acted violently against Saturday night's demonstrators in south Tel Aviv, social justice movement leader Stav Shaffir told Army Radio on Sunday morning.
Shaffir was among the twenty three arrested during the
demonstration against plans to remove protest tents in the
Hatikva neighborhood. All but two of those arrested had been released as of Sunday morning.
Social protest leaders form political movement
to Shaffir, the rally was completely peaceful "and then at some point
the police began to exact more violence against us than they usually do
and to make arrests."
"A number of officers came towards me and
dragged me to their vehicle. I did not understand what they were doing
or why," she explained. "They carried me while I was choking."
claimed that inside the vehicle the police began beating the protesters
they had arrested. "I have not encountered such violence since serving
in the army," she said.
According to Shaffir, weaker areas that
are farther away from the center are subject to more violence from
police than more central neighborhoods are.
Tel Aviv district police denied using excessive force, and said, "This was an illegal protest in which activists blocked off central roads in south Tel Aviv."
Police said the protesters caused disturbances. "We carried out arrests while using reasonable force," police added.
The Tel Aviv municipality announced on Sunday that it will not clear a
tent encampment in south Tel Aviv's Hatikva neighborhood, despite a
court order allowing the evacuation. The evacuation was originally
scheduled to take place on Sunday
Hundreds of people took part in the march that began at Gan
Hatikva and proceeded toward Yigal Allon Street. The demonstration was attended by
several more of the organizers of Tel Aviv's Rothschild Boulevard tent city,
including Dafni Leef.
said that protesters had blocked the intersection of Hagana and Yigal Allon
streets. They later blocked Lod Street.
MK Dov Henin (Hadash) strongly condemned the police's conduct at the demonstration, calling it "violent."
"The tent city in Hatikva neighborhood does not exist by way of protest
but due to lack of choice. The role of the municipality is to find
solutions for them... I call to prevent the evacuation of the tents and
to immediately release the detainees," said Henin.
In a press release
publicizing the protest, organizers said: “The Hatikva tent encampment has
served as a home for the past six months for single mothers, families, parents,
children and the elderly – homeless and the direct victims of the
establishment’s unsympathetic and irresponsible policies.”
slammed the government for evacuating the encampment without providing a plan
for alternative housing for those living there.
“Today we will all come
to support the residents of the encampment and say to the prime minister: ‘In
the State of Israel, a person will not be tossed from street to street – no
evacuation without housing solutions.’”