Israel: Protesters break into banks, 85 are arrested


Israeli social justice protesters fight with policemen during a renewed social justice demonstration in Rothschild boulevard, in the Mediterranean city of Tel Aviv, on July 23, 2011. Social activists set up a tents on Rothschild Boulevard to protest the cost of housing in Israel. That act sparked a protest movement that swept Israel, with tent encampments sprouting up in cities throughout the country.



Last month, hundreds of far-right Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv to protest against the wave of Sudanese immigrants. But this weekend, Tel Aviv was home to activists from a completely opposite political stripe. Left-wing social activists gathered in Tel Aviv this weekend to protest against police violence and economic inequality, with some vandalizing banks and clashing with police officers. The protests began on Friday, when hundreds of protesters tried to revive the "tent city" protests against economic inequality that occurred in Israel last year. But as the protesters tried to bring their tents to the site, they were stopped by police and some were arrested, Haaretz reported.

Among the arrested included Daphni Leef, one of the Israel's more prominent left-wing social justice protesters. Police forcefully dragged Leef into a police car, prompting hundreds of other protesters to block the road with their bodies, Haaretz reported. 

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Leef's arrest spurred an ever bigger protest on Saturday. The night began with 2,000 protesters meeting in Tel Aviv's Habima Square to protest against police violence, Ynet reported. The protesters had also joined forces with a gay-rights rally and other liberal activists.

The protesters chanted, "Emergency protest! Returning power to the people," MSNBC reported. Protesters then vandalized and broke into banks. At least five bank branches in Tel Aviv had their windows broken, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported. The protesters also blocked off a freeway for 90 minutes, Jerusalem Post reported. Police announced that they arrested 85 people.