South Tel Aviv tent city 311.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Around a dozen people were arrested during a violent confrontation with police
at the Lewinsky Park tent city in south Tel Aviv on Monday.
erupted after municipality clerks escorted by two police officers arrived at the
tent city in the late afternoon to dismantle the site’s pirated electricity
While there are conflicting narratives between the tent city
residents and the police and municipality workers, what is clear is that a clash
started and police ended up arresting 12 people at the scene.
to tent city activist Kobi Shahar, when the police and clerks came to dismantle
the electricity a resident took off his shirt and yelled at them, at which point
police attacked him and used a taser gun to subdue him.RELATED:
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Shahar also said
that a couple dozen YASSAM riot police filed out of the Lewinsky police station
and began arresting people and confiscating and breaking cell phones after
people began taking their pictures. Shahar and other people at the scene added
that police began to trample through the tent city, using knives to slice holes
in tents and vandalize the property within.
While it hasn’t been proven
that police willfully vandalized the tent city, the site was in disarray Monday
afternoon with clothes, mattresses and personal belongings scattered across the
site. In addition, several of the tents were broken down or had large holes cut
Police and the Tel Aviv Municipality maintain that a Molotov
cocktail and rocks were thrown at municipality workers and the police, a claim
that could not be verified.
While residents of the tent city said nothing
was thrown at police, a photographer at the scene said he saw protesters throw
some sort of smoking object at the Lewinsky station, and showed photos he took
of police walking through the smoke. He also stated that the violence from
police only began after the object was thrown.
In a statement issued
following the clashes, the Tel Aviv Municipality said that “the throwing of a
Molotov cocktail, stones and glass bottles at municipality workers are violent
and unacceptable actions. The city of Tel Aviv did not attempt to carry out an
eviction of the Lewinsky tent city and respects the ruling issued by the Tel
Aviv District Court.
“The municipality workers came to the site in order
to disconnect a dangerous pirated electricity source, and according to what
police told us, people threw a Molotov cocktail and stones at them.”
one point Monday afternoon, Mario Barretti, the owner of a series of furniture
stores across from the park, went to Lewinsky and began arguing with
When asked why he went to the park to confront the
protesters, Barretti said “I’ve owned these stores here for over 25 years. What
is happening here has nothing to do with the [social issues] protest
Barretti described the tent city at Lewinsky, located in one
of Tel Aviv’s poorest neighborhoods, as being a den of iniquity, where African
refugees and homeless drug addicts while away the days injecting and smoking
drugs and creating a public menace.
“I supported the protests, I think
it’s great that they came. There aren’t enough apartments in Israel, prices are
too high, and daycare is too expensive. But this, this is something else.
They’ve created a house for drug addicts and the homeless to take
Joanna Paraszczuk contributed to this report