Violence, stones and tear gas during rightist protest in Arab town: A day after attending a memorial service for Rabbi Meir Kahane, dozens of his supporters traveled from Jerusalem to the northern Arab town of Umm al-Fahm on Wednesday to protest against the Islamic Movement under tight police security.
They were faced by hundreds of residents of the town and surrounding communities. Massive police forces fired tear gas and stun grenades at dozens of Arab and left-wing protestors, some of whom began hurling stones.
The rightists were returned to their buses following the protest, and police forces stormed the crowd and arrested nine of the stone throwers.
Knesset Member Afu Aghbaria (Hadash) was lightly injured in the leg, apparently by a stun grenade. Balad MK Hanin Zoabi sustained light wounds as well and was treated in a local clinic. A soldier disguised as an Arab was also wounded and evacuated to a hospital in unclear condition.
"The injury in my leg only strengthens my determination to protest against the racism and fascism prevailing in this state," MK Aghbaria said.
Stone throwers (Photo: Avishag Shaar-Yeshuv)
Rightist Itamar Ben-Gvir said during the protest that "only in the State of Israel a faction can call for a third intifada, organize a flotilla and hurt IDF soldiers, while we're helpless." His protestors chanted, "Death to terrorists" and the police confiscated a sign with that slogan, after confiscating signs reading "throw out (Islamic Movement leader) Raed Salah."
"Rabbi Kahane was called delusional, but today it turns out that more and more citizens understand his ideas," Ben-Gvir said. His colleague, Baruch Marzel, said that "if we concede Umm al-Fahm we’ll concede Tel Aviv too," while the protestors continued to chant, "Death to the Arabs" and "Umm al-Fahm is Jewish."
Several Arab Knesset members arrived in the area, including Afu Aghbaria, an umm al-Fahm resident, who defined the visit as a "fascist provocation". Former MK Mossi Raz (Meretz) arrived to support the Arab residents.
A number of Neturi Karta members protested alongside the residents, holding signs reading, "Zionist murderers" and "Arabs yes, Zionists no."
"We are an organization which doesn’t just talk, but also acts. We think the Iranian danger is not as big as the Islamic Movement which is like a fifth column inside the country, a Trojan Horse, which wants to destroy everything," extreme rightist Baruch Marzel told Ynet while making his way to Umm al-Fahm.
"The healthy part of the people of Israel must rise up and take action. It's unthinkable that the Kach movement would be outlawed while the Islamic Movement acts insidiously and gets away with it."
Protestors faced by local residents (Photo: Avishag Shaar-Yeshuv)
Umm al-Fahm mayor Sheikh Khaled Hamdan claimed that "this mess taking place here this morning is insane. It's not normal that 1,500 policemen have to be brought here because of one racist lunatic. We are not the one looking for a provocation. This visit is creating a provocation in the entire region.
Balad Chairman Jamal Zahalka said, "Marzel is one little lunatic, but we are protesting against the big lunatics. The government today has a small Marzel suggesting a population exchange in Umm al-Fahm, so it's important that our public respond to any action calling for a (population) transfer."
MK: Salah threatening our existence
Representatives of the Zion Warriors organization, which is affiliated with Kahane's supporters, participated in the protest as well. "We came here, four secular activists," said Tamir Sassi, 26. "We are rightists, love the Land of Israel and make sure to be present in any place with leftists or Arabs. I'm here to support the protest against Raed Salah, who is building a terror organization inside Israel."
According to Sassi, "Just like they are trying to terrorize us in (the east Jerusalem neighborhood of) Silwan, they are doing the same here. Our goal is to show that we are not afraid, especially in places like Umm al-Fahm. The media keeps on highlighting the Left, but the people are rightist. Entering the center of Umm al-Fahm with a flag of Israel is like a dream."
Neturei Karta protest with Arabs (Photo: Avishag Shaar Yeshuv)
MK Ben-Ari gave the protestors a "pep talk" on their way to Umm al-Fahm. "I told my small children that I woke up this morning for the next generation, for a tomorrow without Raed Salah, who is threatening our existence."
He added that the Islamic Movement was "threatening to destroy the State of Israel."
Minister Braverman slams protestors
Ben-Gvir briefed his activists on the way to the demonstration. "In any other normal country this movement (the Islamic Movement) would not be active. In any other normal country, such a movement would not be allowed to call for the destruction of the State of Israel. But we are the only suckers.
"We protest against the State's helplessness in handling this movement and we are going to Umm al-Fahm to convey a message that we must not surrender to them," Ben-Gvir added.
"We heard them say this morning that the riots won't be like last year, and we can already see that our message has sunk in, and that when we come there they are no longer the landlords. We will continue to battle for the Islamic Movement to be outlawed. Raed Salah to jail for life, the Islamic Movement out."
Minister for Minority Affairs Avishay Braverman said Wednesday morning that the rightist protest in Umm al-Fahm was a "destructive and dangerous provocation aimed at inciting against the town's Arab residents."
Yair Altman, Sharon Roffe-Ofir and Yoav Zitun contributed to this report
- Follow Ynetnews on Facebook