Police clear out Tel Aviv neighborhood for second time
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Police clear out Tel Aviv neighborhood for second time

Residents in Givat Amal barricade selves in home and threaten to self-immolate; Meretz MK calls evacuation ‘painful and violent’

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

  • Illustrative: Givat Amal residents burn tires on December 29, 2014. (Amir Levi/Flash90)
    Illustrative: Givat Amal residents burn tires on December 29, 2014. (Amir Levi/Flash90)
  • Police clash with Givat Amal residents on December 29, 2014 (photo credit: Amir Levi/Flash90)
    Police clash with Givat Amal residents on December 29, 2014 (photo credit: Amir Levi/Flash90)
  • A firefighter puts out a fire started by Givat Amal residents on December 29, 2014. (photo credit: Amir Levi/Flash90)
    A firefighter puts out a fire started by Givat Amal residents on December 29, 2014. (photo credit: Amir Levi/Flash90)
  • Police clash with Givat Amal residents December 29, 2014. (photo credit: Amir Levi/Flash90)
    Police clash with Givat Amal residents December 29, 2014. (photo credit: Amir Levi/Flash90)

Police units arrived in a poor neighborhood in north Tel Aviv early Monday to evict several families living on property that the Supreme Court previously ruled does not legally belong to them.

The eight families forcibly removed from the neighborhood of Givat Amal had returned to the area after similar evacuations in September.

Meretz MK Ilan Gilon spent the night in the neighborhood in solidarity with the residents, and described the removal as violent and unjust.

The residents clashed with police on Monday morning, with several barricading themselves in their homes and threatening self-immolation, according to Channel 10. Residents also burned tires at the entrance to the neighborhood.

Several hours after the police arrived, the evacuation concluded, according to Channel 2, and two people were arrested for resisting the evacuation.

Givat Amal was originally home to approximately 150 people and sits on land valued at billions of shekels belonging to Israeli businessman Yitzhak Tshuva.

A redevelopment plan for neighborhood is to replace the warren of small homes and shanties with luxury residential high-rises.

Gilon described the evacuation as “painful and violent” in a Facebook post.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” he wrote. “There are elderly people in their 70s and 80s here, people with disabilities, women and children.”

The Meretz MK said that in one home, two women passed out when police broke into their home and were taken away in an ambulance for medical treatment.

Residents of Givat Amal being evacuated on September 21, 2014. (photo credit: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Residents of Givat Amal being evacuated on September 21, 2014. (photo credit: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

In another building, residents smeared gasoline on the walls, and barricaded themselves indoors with a gas container, threatening to set themselves on fire.

In an interview with Channel 2, Gilon called on the government to compensate the residents.

“You can’t throw families into the street without compensation,” the Meretz MK said. “What is one family supposed to do, faced with the police and the most powerful people in the business world? They don’t stand a chance. The state sold these people these lands by law, and it must grant them adequate compensation.”

The current situation is like “telling the settlers from Gush Katif to deal by themselves with the Palestinian Authority,” he added, referencing Israel’s 2005 unilateral evacuation from the Gaza Strip.

סטטוס מתגלגל. בוקר קשה, פינוי אלים וכואב בגבעת עמל. אחרי לילה ארוך פרצו לפנות בוקר יס"מניקים מכל הכיוונים לבתים, שברו …

Posted by ‎אילן גילאון‎ on Sunday, 28 December 2014

The remaining buildings were to be demolished later Monday afternoon, making way for the various construction projects planned for the site.

Givat Amal’s original residents were placed in the neighborhood by the government in the late 1940s, and despite a decades-long legal battle, the state never granted them legal ownership of their houses or property on which they lived.

Backdropped by luxury towers, destroyed homes are seen in the Givat Amal neighborhood of Tel Aviv in September 2014. (photo credit: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Backdropped by luxury towers, destroyed homes are seen in the Givat Amal neighborhood of Tel Aviv in September 2014. (photo credit: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Tshuva acquired rights to the property when his company Elad Israel Residence purchased the land in 1987 under the condition that the residents be compensated for leaving their homes. Since then, Tshuva has argued that the terms of the agreement should be changed since the residents are not the legal owners.

In September, riot police evacuated the residents after the Supreme Court ruled they did not legally own their homes or property.

At the time, the Elad Israel Residence group said it had offered financial compensation to residents who would leave the neighborhood voluntarily prior to the eviction. At least two families brokered a deal and left the neighborhood voluntarily and were reimbursed.

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