Photo: Gil Yohanan
Itamar Ben Gvir
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Umm al-Fahm - 'A human barricade'
Photo: Moshe Milner, GPO

High Court says rightists can march in Umm al-Fahm

Court orders State Prosecutor's Office, police to find way to enable far-right flags' procession in Arab town; but local residents threaten they will fight to block procession

The High Court of Justice on Thursday ordered police to meet with extreme-right activists Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben Gvir, in order to devise a solution that will enable them to hold a rally in the Arab-Israeli town of Umm al-Fahm.


The State Prosecutor's Office appealed to the High Court against the activists' intent to hold a procession of Israeli flags through the town on Wednesday, claiming that choosing to hold te rally in the middle of an Arab town would be unnecessarily inflammatory, and may result in harm to people or property.


The State further claimed to have Shin Bet and police reports indicating that holding the march would constitute a risk to public safety.


Marzel and Ben Gvir, on the other hand, claimed that stopping them from holding the rally will constitute detrimental harm to their right to free speech.


The court, they said, cannot use any argument of hazard to public safety in order to deny their petition to march in a city which is under Israeli jurisdiction, particularly when if it allows left-wing activists to rally in the West Bank city of Hebron and the gay community to hold pride parades in Jerusalem.


Presiding Judge Edmond Levy called on both sides to try and find an acceptable solution and present it within 15 days.


"We are content with the court's decision, although we still find it lacking," said Ben Gvir. "The State Prosecutor's Office should learn form this, that the right to march is not reserved to Arabs and leftists alone."


'We'll block their march'

In Umm al-Fahm, acting mayor Mustafa Suheil warned the townspeople would form a "human barricade" outside the city to prevent the protestors from entering.


Residents responded with outrage to the court's decision. When the petition was initially filed by the right-wing activists, many thought it a joke. But today what had been perceived as a provocative gag became a reality.


"On the day of the march there will be a human barricade of 50,000 people on the main road. Itamar Ben-Gvir is not welcome in Umm al-Fahm," declared Suheil.


"Ever since we heard the news, my phone has been ringing off the hook with residents calling to complain about the ruling. The court is out of touch with the people, they don't understand that for years now we have co-existed here, dozens of Jews visit us on the weekends, we employ Jewish teachers and Jewish

doctors and there is excellent cooperation between us and the neighboring municipalities – and here this madman seeks to destroy everything and disrupt the status quo, and the court in its ivory tower simply doesn't care about people's lives," he said.


Another Umm al-Fahm resident, Fatiha Aghbreeya, said the march jeopardizes any progress made in regards to the town's attitude towards Israel. "There is a different atmosphere here now, residents want to integrate, they're talking about making connections and equal rights. Even the state has changed its strategy. So why is the honorable court seeking to destroy that?"


פרסום ראשון: 09.04.08, 14:17
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