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Officials clear protest tent encampments in Tel Aviv

Israel Materials 3 October 2011 22:12
Officials cleared four tent encampments in Tel Aviv Monday, two-and-a-half months after they were first pitched as part of a protest against high apartment costs in Tel Aviv, which rapidly escalated into discontent about the spiraling cost of living in Israel.
Officials clear protest tent encampments in Tel Aviv

Officials cleared four tent encampments in Tel Aviv Monday, two-and-a-half months after they were first pitched as part of a protest against high apartment costs in Tel Aviv, which rapidly escalated into discontent about the spiraling cost of living in Israel, DPA reported.

A police spokesman said the evacuations by municipal officials accompanied by police proceeded peacefully, save for one incident in south Tel Aviv where two people were arrested for causing a disturbance.

On Monday morning, a Tel Aviv District Court rejected a last-minute request by activists to delay the evacuation of some of the tents.

On Sunday, police had visited the encampments to tell the protestors that they had one more day before they had to pack up their tents it they wanted to receive assistance in evacuating.

The discontent began in mid-July, when activists pitched tents in Tel Aviv's plush Rothschild Boulevard, to protest the cost of housing in Israel's richest city, the country's financial capital.

Tent encampments sprang up elsewhere in Tel Aviv and all over the country, and the protests widened to include dissatisfaction at the general high cost of living.

Almost weekly protests took place in most Israeli cities, peaking on September 3, when more than 400,000 people demonstrated nationwide, demanding "social justice."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his free market policies under increased scrutiny - if not threat - appointed a 22-member committee, headed by a respected economist, to find "economically sound" ways of reducing the cost of living without breaching the budget framework.

The committee published its findings one week ago, recommending: cutting Israel's defence budget to underwrite reforms, which included free education; reforming the housing market to facilitate more affordable accommodation; and raising taxes on the wealthy and on corporations.

Protest leaders said the recommendations of the committee did not go far enough.

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