Israeli police arrest social reform protesters | News | DW | 24.06.2012
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Israeli police arrest social reform protesters

Israeli police say they have arrested 85 people after violent demonstrations in Tel Aviv. The protests are the latest sign of a nationwide movement calling for social reform.

The arrests took place after scores of demonstrators clashed with police, vandalized banks and blocked main roads overnight in Israel's commercial capital, Tel Aviv.

Hundreds of people gathered in the city late on Saturday to protest the arrest of 12 social activists a day earlier.

Some said they were angered after a protest leader said she had experienced police brutality when she was detained during another demonstration in Tel Aviv on Friday.

"Over 1,500 people demonstrated at various places in Tel Aviv until a point where the protests turned violent and there were disturbances. They blocked roads and smashed windows at five banks and until 3 a.m. (00:00 UCT), 85 people were arrested," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

He said the arrests were made to prevent looting.

Media reports put the number of protesters at 6,000, much higher than police estimates. Live television footage showed protesters scuffling with police into the early hours of Sunday morning.

Last summer, hundreds of thousands of people held unprecendented protests across the country, calling for economic and social reform.

In response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formed a experts' panel that recommended rises in welfare spending and reductions in the defense budget.

However, activists say the reforms have not been sufficient.

tj/ipj (Reuters, AP)