Right-wing Umm-el-Fahm march okayed

Ben-Gvir: Why would the state allow a gay pride parade in Jerusalem, and not give permission to us?

By DAN IZENBERG
September 4, 2008 14:34
2 minute read.
itamar ben gvir and baruch marzel read kahane 298

ben gvir marzel read 248.88 aj. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])

 
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The High Court of Justice on Thursday ordered the police to find a "creative" way to allow a group of right-wing extremists to march through Umm El-Fahm waving Israeli flags even though the police warned that the event would "almost certainly" threaten public security and order. During the hearing, Justice Edmond Levy said the group, headed by Itamar Ben-Gvir and Baruch Marzel, who were senior activists in the Kach movement before it was declared a terrorist organization, should be allowed to march in the city and called on the police to find a "creative" way in coordination with the petitioners to let them do so. The Internet news site Ynet quoted acting Umm el-Fahm Mayor Mustafa Sohel as saying, "On the day of the march, there will be a human blockade of 50,000 people. Itamar Ben-Gvir is not wanted in Umm el-Fahm." Ben-Gvir and Marzel said they had originally requested to set up a kiosk in the Israeli Arab city on Independence Day to sell Israeli flags to "emphasize the obligation of the residents of Umm el-Fahm to be loyal to the State of Israel and its symbols." They asked the police to hold a march after the Umm el-Fahm municipality refused to grant them a license for the kiosk. The police rejected their request but proposed that the march be held on a highway that skirts Umm el-Fahm and has a road from inside the city leading to it. However, the petitioners insisted that the march be held inside the city, adding that although they had asked that the route go through the center of town, they were willing to compromise on that matter. At the end of the hearing, the panel of three justices, including Levy, Hanan Meltzer and Edna Arbel, gave the state and the petitioners 15 days to find a solution acceptable to both sides. Ben-Gvir said afterwards, "We are satisfied with the court's decision, even if not one hundred percent. It is important that the state prosecution internalize the message that freedom of speech and the right to march does not belong only to the Arabs and the leftists." He was referring to an agreement reached several weeks ago by the state prosecution and the left-wing Breaking the Silence organization, allowing the human rights group to hold tours in the Israeli occupied part of Hebron despite the opposition of the settlers living in the area. In its arguments against holding the march inside Umm el-Fahm, the state's representative, Attorney Michal Tzuk-Shafir, said the state was "seriously concerned, based on past experience, assessments by the police and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and on information in their possession, that holding the march will lead, with almost total certainty, to a threat to public safety and order." Sohel said he had received another phone call every minute after news of the High Court decision became known. He accused the court of living in an ivory tower and not being aware that for many years the city has been living in co-existence with the Jewish community. "Dozens of Jews visit our city each Sabbath, we employ Jewish teachers, Jewish doctors work here and we have close cooperation with neighboring Jewish authorities," he said. "And then along comes a crazy man who wants to spoil the atmosphere and ruin the existing situation."

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