Police arrested eighty-nine protesters after more than 6,500 people flooded Tel Aviv’s Habima Square Saturday night to protest the arrest of Daphni Leef, the leader of last summer’s mass protests against inequality and the high cost of housing in Israel.
Tel Aviv District Commander Aharon Eksel told Haaretz, “Protesters crossed the line. They set out to clash with the police.”
Police also say the protest was illegal, and that protesters attacked inspectors and police by spitting and throwing objects.
In rhetoric that should sound familiar to any American protester, demonstrator Khen Tsubery told the Jerusalem Post that the lack of a permit was intentional because permits are difficult to obtain.
Ynet News painted a much more violent image of the protest, choosing to focus on vandalization incidents involving shattered windows and protesters charging into banks as part of what the outlet dramatically described as “socioeconomic riots.”
Activists claim one protester, Moshe Menkin, was arrested by an undercover police officer after entering an abandoned building that the police were using as a staging area.
Barak Cohen, who claims he was injured when an officer kneed him, told Haaretz, “We came to create a confrontation, not to stand across from them. You’re fighting for your life and you have to fight them, without fear. They can carry out arrests and close off streets, but they can’t affect the choices we make in our souls.”
This isn’t the first accusation of police violence during the weekend housing protests in Tel Aviv. A 24-year-old woman was videotaped being violently shoved by an officer during the protest after she attempted to reach her boyfriend through a wall of police who she claims were beating him.
Maya Gorkin said she still can’t believe the extent of the police violence at the Tel Aviv rally, even though she was subjected to it herself.
“I’m in shock,” she said. “I admit that I didn’t believe something like this could happen.”