Violent clashes break out in Tel Aviv during gas protest, eight arrested

Violent clashes between demonstrators and police broke out in central Tel Aviv during a demonstration protesting Israeli government plans for a natural gas field of its coast that was discovered in 2010. Eight demonstrators have been arrested so far.

The protest, which has drawn thousands of demonstrators, is against plan for the natural gas reserves that critics say amounts to an energy monopoly and privatization of a public commodity.

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The protest, which took the form of a march, set out from the city’s central Habima Square and processed down Ibn Gvirol, one of Tel Aviv’s busiest streets. At one point, a stretch of Ibn Gvirol along with other roads in the area were closed to traffic in order to allow the thousands of protesters to pass.

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Protesters chanted and held banners calling for social justice, a refrain that has repeatedly surfaced in Tel Aviv protests since the summer 2011 protests, which saw hundreds of thousands of Israelis take to Tel Aviv’s streets to call for higher standards of living.

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Once protesters arrived at the government offices on Menahem Begin Street, police moved to block them from progressing further. Barricades were set up which protesters tried to break through in an attempt to reach and block off the Ayalon freeway.

This provoked violent clashes between protesters and police, leading to eight arrests. The police said that the demonstrators failed to follow their orders and disturbed the public order.