A police officer was lightly wounded and 16 counterdemonstrators were detained
in Jaffa on Wednesday, as about 50 right-wing activists held a march down the
city’s main thoroughfare to protest what that they said was the Islamic
Movement’s efforts to take over the area.RELATED:
Police said the officer was
wounded by a rock thrown by someone in a group of counter-demonstrators in a
Right-wing activists petition court to approve Jaffa march
'Right wing march could lead to deaths'
No major incidents in Silwan march
The marchers, led by MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) and
far-rightists Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir arrived on a single bus around
10:15 a.m., where they were met by dozens of riot police who escorted them down
the street as several dozen reporters and cameramen scrambled for
During the march, Arab businesses closed their doors in
protest, reopening only after the procession had passed.
At the march,
Ben-Ari called on “all loyal residents of Jaffa to raise the Israeli flag on
their houses,” and offered to supply them with the flags. He described Jaffa as
having been “abandoned” by police.
Marzel referred to leftists as
“collaborators with Israel’s enemies,” and said that he and his supporters were
looking to “expel Israel’s enemies from Jaffa.”
There was an especially
high police presence at the march. Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said
“several hundred police from the Yassam Special Patrol Unit, mounted police
officers and undercover units were deployed to protect the marchers and the
locals and to ensure that things remain calm.”
Police helicopters circled
overhead, as did a police blimp.
On Sunday, the Eretz Yisrael Shelanu NGO
petitioned the High Court of Justice after the Tel Aviv Police refused to
explain its refusal to allow the Jaffa march to go forward.
accepted the petition, allowing the group to march.
On Wednesday, the
marchers walked up Yefet Street to Yehuda Margoza Street near the Andromeda
residential complex, before marching past the park and back to the Old City,
where they boarded the bus back home.
They carried several Israeli flags
as well as a sign saying “Jaffa is Jewish.” They chanted “Jaffa is for Jews” and
the songs “Am Yisrael Chai” and Eyal Golan’s anthem “Mi Shema’amin (The One Who
Throughout the march, counter-protesters stood off but there were few confrontations.
Plans to hold the event were met with
opposition by the heads of the small national- religious seed group living in
Jaffa, who issued a statement last week saying “we are stridently against any
attempt by any groups, Jewish or Arab, to inflame the sentiments in Jaffa in
order to reap political capital at the expense of the city’s
“Just as we were against provocative protests by extreme
politicians and individuals from the Arab sector, we are also against similar
rallies held by Jews.”
The statement continued, “There is a place for
waving Israeli flags and marching in Jaffa, but there is no place for a march
whose purpose is to inflame tensions.”
The statement compared such
efforts to those carried out by “extreme leftist working against the Torani seed
group in Jaffa.”
Tel Aviv-Jaffa Mayor Ron Huldai also expressed
disapproval of the march, issuing a statement earlier this week criticizing
“this attempt by right-wing figures who come from outside Jaffa to disrupt our
coexistence through provocation.”
In the Old City on Wednesday, lifelong
Jaffa resident Hussein Haj, 49, shouted at the marchers and said, “In all my
life we’ve lived here together, Arabs and Jews, without problems. We’ve never
had problems. But all it takes is one rock, one person throwing one rock and
it’s over in an instant. And it would take us years to make things the way they
Jaffa is home to around 50,000 people, of whom over
two-thirds are Jews. The march mainly passed through the Ajami neighborhood,
which predominantly Arab, though like other areas of Jaffa it has gone through
an extensive process of gentrification in recent years and attracted more and
more Jewish residents.
Wednesday’s event took place only a few days after
Tel Aviv-Jaffa City Hall announced plans to construct an affordable residential
project for Jaffa’s Arab residents, who have suffered a housing crunch in recent
years, mainly brought on by gentrification and soaring prices.
Lidman contributed to this report.