Protest under Threat

Illustration: Noa Olchovsky

This past weekend, two summer phenomena returned to the streets of Tel Aviv: the longtime tradition of a summer heat wave and the much more recent phenomenon of a summer social protest.


On Friday (June 22) hundreds of people made an attempt to reestablish the “social protest encampment” in Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard, where last year’s social justice protests began. However, this time the protesters were met with the municipality’s heavy hand – in the form of police officers and municipal inspectors who came to prevent them from placing a tent on the ground. The protesters reacted by carrying the tents on their shoulders; the tents were confiscated by the police. While using excessive force, the police arrested 11 demonstrators, including the violent arrest of Daphni Leef (who set up the initial tent that sparked last year’s protests).


In response to these events, ACRI’s Chief Legal Counsel, Attorney Dan Yakir, who was one of several attorneys on the site the arrestees where brought to (the Gllilot Police Station) and provided legal counsel, stated that “The Tel Aviv Municipality is ignoring the fact that there is no need to receive a permit for erecting a protest tent on public property, nor is there any need to receive a permit for a protest vigil, regardless of the number of persons participating in it. The police should offer ACRI’s guidebook on the rights of demonstrators as compulsory reading in any police training, including for its senior officers.”


On the following day, Saturday June 23, thousands of people marched in the streets of Tel Aviv – demanding social justice and protesting against the police brutality of the previous day. The demonstrators blocked roads and smashed the windows of several banks around Rabin Square. According to many reports and videos, police used excessive force against the protesters and arrested 89 persons, among them one of ACRI’s employees (she and many others were released early this afternoon). Some of those arrested are still being held in custody at this time, and the police stated that it will go ahead and press charges against them, as well as against the 11 that were arrested (and released) on Friday.


ACRI continues its intensive work to promote and protect of freedom of expression and the right to protest – in the face of the ongoing violations of these fundamental rights.
Here’s a sample of the freedom of protest issues that ACRI dealt with in the past month alone:


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Categories: Anti-Democratic Initiatives, Democracy and Civil Liberties, Freedom of Expression, Tent Protest, The Occupied Territories, Use of Force

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