Tel Aviv tells tent cities to clear out by holidays

Fliers affixed to tents with red roses; municipality says it is on hand to help residents pack up, assist homeless find housing.

Nordau tent city chilled_311 (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Nordau tent city chilled_311
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
The Tel Aviv municipality on Tuesday told tent city residents across town that they have until the Rosh Hashana holiday to dismantle their campsites.
The municipality’s announcement was issued by clerks who visited the tent cities on Rothschild, Nordau, and Ben-Gurion Boulevards, as well as Levinsky Park next to the new central bus station.
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The fliers, which were affixed by clerks to the tents along with single red roses, said that the municipality is on hand to assist campsite residents breaking down their tents, as well as those residents who lack housing and need help from the city’s department of social services.
When the notices were attached to tents on Rothschild Tuesday morning, a handful of residents blocked the street for several minutes until they were cleared away by police.
While there were some tent city residents vowing to make a stand when the evictions are carried out by force, homeless tent city resident Itzik Keidar said he had made up his mind over a week earlier that the time had come to leave Rothschild.
“It’s become disgusting here. Everything is rotten and loud and crowded. I already came to the decision before that I would move to a different place,” Keidar said, adding “I’ll probably just pack up and move to a forest somewhere.”
Towards the end of Rothschild Boulevard, on the last block before Allenby Street, three homeless men, one from Herzliya and the other two Israeli-Arabs from Lod and Taybe, said that they would have nowhere to go if an eviction is carried out. All three seemed to bear the haggard stares and worn complexions of years of substance abuse and life on the streets.
“Yossi,” the Herzliya native who did not want his name given, said he has been homeless for more than two years and has no family to live with.
“We’ll stay here until we’re given a solution and we’ll fight it if they try to kick us out,” he said half-heartedly, before adding “if they manage to kick us out what can we do?” Yossi said that he and his friends came to Rothschild partly out of support for the protest movement, but also because they were already homeless “and had nowhere else to go.”
Adham Haj-Yihyeh said he has been homeless since his family home in the Israeli-Arab town of Taybeh was demolished by the Israel Lands Administration, which he said took place two years ago.
Haj-Yihyeh, a father of three, said that if an eviction is carried out by the authorities he will probably stay with his brother for a day or two, before hitting the streets again somewhere far from Rothschild.
Like on most afternoons, the crowd at the Lewinsky Park tent city in South Tel Aviv on Tuesday included a handful of passed-out barefoot African migrants and a few homeless Israelis.
Rachel, a homeless resident of the tent city said that municipal clerks came by to hand out roses and fliers on Tuesday morning, which she said she took and immediately threw away. She also vowed to fight a possible evacuation by force.
“We won’t evacuate here. We’ll block the streets and we’ll fight the evacuation.
Even if they manage to break down the tent city we’ll keep coming back. I know there’s two ways this can end for me: the hospital or prison.”
Maayan Morgenvasser, a 22-year-old homeless Israeli eating pea soup out of a plastic cup at Lewinsky on Tuesday afternoon said “I’ve been homeless for four years and this is the most permanent place yet that I’ve found to sleep.
I’ll also go to prison or the hospital if they come to evacuate us.”
One exception to the fliers handed out on Tuesday was the tent city in the impoverished Hatikvah quarter of Southeast Tel Aviv.
Sitting under a canopy in a tent city mainly inhabited by families, Itzik Amsalem said that they have received no notifications from the municipality, but that whatever happens “people who are homeless now will be homeless then too.”
The father of four said that he will try to obtain a court injunction against a future eviction, and added that all he is looking for is a place to sleep – be it a trailer, an apartment or a campsite.
“If they take away my tent, will they then take away the bench I sleep on after that? Will they take away the tree I sleep under.”