Israel's tent city protesters begin packing up

By Jessica Elgot, September 5, 2011
Protesters are to take down their tents in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem

Protesters are to take down their tents in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem

After the largest protest since the “tent city” protests in Israel began, activists are beginning to pack up their tents, promising to move on to the “next phase”.

On Saturday, more than 400,000 Israelis demonstrated across the country. Around 250,000 gathered in Tel Aviv's Kikar Hamedina.

Social action leaders, including the National Union of Israel Students, said they w ere planning to pack up the tents on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard and downtown Jerusalem, some of which have been standing for eight weeks, in protest at economic grievances, house prices and social justice issues.

NUIS leader Yuval Basdolach told the Jerusalem Post: “The tents are no longer serving any purpose, they are only a symbol. What’s important is the people inside the tents or that were inside them. We don’t need the campsites to show that the protest is strong. The neighbo u rs on Rothschild need some quiet and their lives back.”

Organisers said they were not moving because of pressure from the city or from the police.

Protest leader Daphni Leef told Ynet: "Some of the tents will naturally be dismantled while others will become larger, grow stronger and prepare for winter. Some of them will turn into community cent re s where the public would be able to continue meeting and talking."

It remains unclear what practical steps activists next plan to take. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has established a committee to address some of the demands of the protesters, which publishes its report at the end of the month. It will address affordable housing, public housing construction, an expansion of free education and distribution of wealth.

Last updated: 12:32pm, September 5 2011