Occupy Tel Aviv —again

Police detained 89 demonstrators after more than 6,500 people flooded Tel Aviv’s Habima Square the night of June 23 to protest the arrest of Daphni Leef, a leader of last summer’s mass movement against inequality and the high cost of housing in Israel. Tel Aviv’s district police commander Aharon Eksel told newspaper Haaretz, “Protesters crossed the line. They set out to clash with the police.” Police also said the protest was illegal, because no permit had been applied for. Protesters responded that the lack of a permit was intentional, to make the point that permits are difficult to obtain. Clashes were reported from nearby Rabin Square, where protesters attempted to break into banks, and broke the window of one. The elite police “Special Forces” riot squad was mobilized to the scene. The gathering was publicized as an attempt to reboot last year’s movement, under the slogan, “Emergency protest! Returning power to the people!” (Allison Kilkenny on The Nation blog, June 25; Haaretz, June 23)

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  1. Self-immolation at Israel rent protest
    An Israeli protester set himself alight during a rally July 14 marking the anniversary of a the start of the Tel Aviv rent protests. He apparently survived, badly burned. While self-immolations in Tunisia and Egypt helped spark the Arab Spring, such actions are rare in Israel. In 2005, a woman died of burns sustained after she set herself on fire to protest Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. (AP, July 14)

    1. Details on Israeli self-immolation
      He is identified as Moshe Silman, in his 50s, and he remains in critical condition, with burns covering over 94 percent of his body. A note that Silman distributed before setting himself on fire identified him by name and social security number. It stated that he had done his reserve duty for the army until the age of 46, but once he was unable to work, “the State of Israel robbed me of everything and left me with nothing… I blame the State of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu and [Finance Minister] Yuval Steinitz for the constant humiliation the citizens of Israel have to endure on a day-to-day basis. They take from the poor and give to the rich.” Protests have been ongoing since the incident, and Sliman’s name has become a rallying cry. (Global Post, July 15; Times of Israel, July 14)

  2. New Israeli self-immolation
    A wheelchair-bound Israeli war veteran was reported to be in a serious condition after setting himself on fire at a bus stop near Tel Aviv on July 22. The man was in dispute with Israel’s veterans administration. The self-immolatio came hours before the funeral of Moshe Silman, who died a week after setting himself on a fire at a protest. More than 1,000 people took part in vigils for Mr Silman. (BBC News, AFP, July 22)