Soccer hooligans and rightwing MKs joined hundreds of supporters who rallied outside the military court in Kastina, near Kiryat Malachi, calling for the release of the IDF soldier held on suspicion of murdering a subdued Palestinian attacker.
A large contingent from the La Familia group of hardcore Beitar FC fans helped rally supporters to the demonstration, and were filmed chanting “[Rabbi Meir] Kahane lives!,” setting off smoke grenades and waving Israeli flags and signs with slogans including “death penalty for terrorists” and “Jewish blood isn’t cheap.”
A flyer for the rally showed a crude image of an IDF soldier with a knife in his back, along with the words: “The state is backstabbing the soldier from Hebron – we aren’t!” Those involved in organizing the protest included farright activists Itamar Ben-Gvir and Baruch Marzel. In a video of the Hebron incident released days after it occurred, the soldier can be seen shaking Marzel’s hand shortly after the shooting and before his arrest.
Speaking outside the hearing on Tuesday, former Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said that he came “in order to support the soldier and to balance that gross meddling of the prime minister and defense minister.”
He accused both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon of “pouncing on a 19-year-old boy, an active duty soldier.”
He added that, “I’m not saying he behaved right or wrong, but that I obviously prefer a soldier who makes a mistake and stays alive over a soldier who, God forbid, is murdered by a terrorist.”
Likud MK Oren Hazan also attended the protest, and posted on Twitter on Tuesday that “it’s heart-breaking to see how they are trying to fabricate a reality to fit the ‘command spirit’ of Bogie [Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon].”
The rally on Tuesday was the latest in a series of recent demonstrations held in support of the soldier. In the soldier’s hometown of Ramle, the municipality held a rally in his honor at a local cultural center, hours after the crowd dispersed outside the courthouse.
Further protests are expected this week, including one announced by La Familia for Thursday afternoon outside the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv.