Ben-Ari, to lead march
Photo: Alex Kolomoisky
Baruch Marzel
Photo: Alex Kolomoisky

Umm al-Fahm: 'Marzel, tomorrow we'll dig your grave'

Residents of Arab city plan series of protests against rightist rally set for Tuesday; Balad MK Zahalka warns against use of weapons, says it could lead to 'major disaster.' Police on high alert, deploy 2,500 officers to maintain public order

Umm al-Fahm residents vowed on Monday to prevent the entrance of rightists, headed Baruch Marzel, planning to march and rally in the city on Tuesday.


Many of the townspeople, enraged, protested in front of the city's police headquarters, shouting anti-Right slogans and waving signs reading "We're in favor of peace, Marzel brings terror," and "Patience Marzel, tomorrow we will dig your grave."


In addition to a general strike declared in the northern city, Mayor Sheikh Khaled Hamdan said he and his fellow residents would use their own bodies to stop extremist Marzel "and his gang members" from entering the city.


Speaking at a press conference in Umm al-Fahm, resident and Hadash MK Afou Agbaria said, "The Jewish streets should also be concerned with what is taking place. The extreme right is heading toward apartheid, that will, at the end of the process, harm not only us, but the weaker layers of the Jewish sector."


The police declared a heightened state of alert across the Wadi Ara region and Israel's northern sector and will deploy 2,500 police officers to maintain public order.


"We have a large force ready to deploy in order to create deterrence," Northern District Police Commander, Major-General Shimon Koren, said Monday night. "We will allow legitimate protest but we will take a firm hand against any rioting."


Balad Chairman Jamal Zahalka, who lives in Wadi Ara, was also present at the press conference and warned against the use of weapons: "We are not fighting this little fascist, but the big fascist – the one that has power over the mainstream Israeli politics that reeks of Kahanism.


"There are people like him in Kadima, Shas, Likud and the National Religious Party. These people have a history of shooting at Palestinians and I warn that if they come tomorrow carrying weapons, they will start shooting and this could escalate into a major disaster."


Council Member Raja Agbaria said, "Marzel is a little fascist. The strike we declared is not against Marzel himself, but against the institutionalized policies of the Israeli establishment that represents racism.


"We predict more acts of racism to occur in the next government and therefore, Umm al-Fahm is taking it upon itself to be the pioneer in the face of the escalating racist policies on Israel's part."


Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al) called the planned march an act of provocateurs seeking strife and discord. It must be prevented. The residents of Umm al-Fahm are peaceful people. Who despise racists."


'Arabs, Jews won't allow march to take place'

The Umm al-Fahm municipality spent the past few days trying to have the rightist march called off, and even spoke with police representatives on Sunday.


"We put the responsibility in the police's hands, since they are the ones with the authority to cancel or hold the event. We demanded from them the same restraint that we demand from ourselves, and I say we will prevent their entrance with our bodies with restraint, in a quiet and peaceful manner," said Mayor Hamdan.


Head of the Menashe Regional Council Ilan Sadeh was also present at the press conference and said, "Democracy has the right to express itself, but on the other hand, incitement must be prevented.


"The court should have prevented this incitement. We will stand together tomorrow, Arabs and Jews, and we will not allow this march to take place."


The High Court of Justice ordered the rightist flag march be held in the Arab city in October, but it was postponed a number of times by police due to security considerations and concern for the lives of the rightists. Last week, the police approved a date for the march to be held on Tuesday.


On Sunday, MK Michael Ben-Ari of the National Union Party announced he also planned to march in the procession, and even stand in the lead. "It's provocation to say this is provocation. If waving Israeli flags is provocation – than this is the greater provocation," the MK said.


Large police forces have prepared to thwart any clashes between the marchers and residents of nearby Wadi Ara. The march will not go through the main streets of Umm al-Fahm, and its route has been coordinated with the police.


The list of participants is yet to be finalized, but according to estimates, some 100 right-wing activists are expected to take part.


פרסום ראשון: 03.23.09, 14:52
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