Tent City 311.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
The Tel Aviv District Court turned down a petition against the evacuation of the
Rothschild Boulevard protest encampment on Sunday, overturning a temporary
injunction preventing the municipality from clearing away protest
tents. The two-month-old encampment had become a health hazard and
descended into “anarchy,” Judge Kobi Vardi said in his ruling.
RELATED:Tent dwellers, municipality agree to dialog
Rothschild residents join petition against tent
allowed the protesters until Wednesday to evacuate the encampment
Immediately after the judgement, activists expressed
disappointment and said they were now considering their next move.
according to attorney Michael Sfard, who has represented the protesters in their
petition, could involve an appeal to the Supreme Court.
to a preliminary agreement, the tents won’t be removed from around the city
until there have been negotiations with the municipality,” said Roee Neuman, the
protest movement’s spokesman.
Although the encampment was originally
established to demonstrate about housing issues, at the heart of the petition
was the legal question of just how far the democratic right to protest
The protesters have argued that evacuating the Rothschild
encampment harms their freedom of expression.
However, the continued
presence of the tents has led to counter-accusations that protesters are
infringing the rights of the wider public.
The municipality had argued
that a balance should be struck between freedom of expression and the public’s
right to enjoy public space.
According to city hall, the Rothschild
Boulevard encampment had become increasingly abandoned and had started to pose a
health hazard as protesters moved out and other populations moved in.
this claim, the municipality is supported by a group of 48 Rothschild Boulevard
residents who added themselves to the court petition.
In a letter to the
court, those residents painted a picture of anarchy on the leafy central Tel
Aviv boulevard, saying that the tents have attracted the homeless and drug
addicts who shot up heroin in broad daylight and smeared excrement on
Rothschild residents welcomed Sunday’s ruling.
“It’s a shame
that the parties failed to reach an agreement outside the courtroom in the
shared spirit that has reigned for more than eight weeks between everyone
involved,” said attorney Karin Filosof, who represented the 48 residents on a
pro bono basis.
“It’s important to remember that this is a residential
neighborhood with families and children,” Filosof said.
“The protest has
carried on for a long time and the court’s ruling is an expression of
proportionality in this case.”
While the petition was not about the
housing protests, it nonetheless managed to refocus attention on housing issues,
including the plight of those homeless people living in the remnants of the
social justice encampment.
In his ruling, Vardi said the court expected
the municipality to do what it could to assist those homeless
Attorney Gil Gan-Mor of the Association for Civil Rights in
Israel also used the ruling to address the country’s housing
“The Tel Aviv Municipality has approval to clear the city’s
encampments, but it cannot ignore the homeless people who live in them,” said
Gan-Mor, who noted that ACRI recently asked Construction and Housing Minister
Ariel Attias help the homeless by providing longterm rental apartments and
increasing the public housing supply.
“So far, nothing has been done
about that,” Gan-Mor said.
Attorney Barak Cohen, who has represented
several activists arrested during demonstrations, also urged housing protesters
on Sunday not to give up their original cause.
“You can take the
protesters out of the tents, but you can’t take the tents out of the
protesters,” Cohen told The Jerusalem Post.
“Every citizen needs to take
responsibility for continuing the protests, stronger than ever before.”