Election kicks off amid controversy as fights, aggressive tactics reported.
By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN, JPOST STAFF
Seventeen percent out of the 95,000 Likud members had cast their votes by 5 p.m. in some 300 polling stations across the country in Tuesday's Likud Party primary.
The primary kicked off at 10 a.m. amid a cloud of controversy as fights were reported at a polling station in Kiryat Atta and Yossi Shahar, an observer for Moshe Feiglin's campaign, was forced out of a polling station in Yavneh, despite the fact that they he was legally required to be there.
Feiglin blasts Netanyahu HQ location
In addition, Feiglin supporters in Migdal Haemek reported that very large posters of Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu had been erected by the polling station.
In Sdorot a complaint was submitted against Netanyahu supporter Shimon Edri, who was accused of attacking and threatening a Feiglin representative named Amitai Cohen.
Also, representatives of the third candidate in the race, World Likud chairman Danny Danon, complained that there were many places in North in which there were not even voting slips in his name.
Meanwhile, Feiglin's supporters said that Likud MK Haim Katz had bused 200 employees from the Israel Aircraft Industries, where Katz is chairman of the union, whom he had signed up for Likud in order to vote for Netanyahu. When Feglin's number two Michael Fuah tried to stop this illegal tactic and started filming the move, he was attacked by four Israel Aircraft Industries workers. Police were called to the scene.
All three candidates spent election day campaigning at polling stations. Netanyahu voted at the Jerusalem International Convention Center and visited polling stations in Ma'aleh Adumim, Rishon Lezion, Ashdod, Bat Yam, Netanya and Tel Aviv.
At 12 p.m. Netanyahu arrived at the convention center and told the crowd that "this election is the first step towards Likud returning to the Prime Minister's Office."
Feiglin started his day by attempting to pray on the Temple Mount and visited polling stations in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh. He also voted at the Jerusalem International Convention Center and was greeted by a throng of supporters including a man dressed as clown drawing caricatures of people in return for promises to vote for Feiglin.
Feiglin addressed the crowd saying: "This will be remembered as an emotional day in which Israel will return to the people and no longer be controlled by a leftist minority and politicians on the right who do their bidding."
"We are on a journey towards victory. I don't know if the journey will end today but it is a big step on the way," he continued.
Tents were set up outside the center by Netanyahu and Feiglin supporters playing the candidates' respective jingles.
Danon voted at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds and visited polling stations in Herzliya, Ramat Hasharon, Petah Tikva, Lod and Jerusalem.
At a Netanya polling station, a Feiglin representative told the Jerusalem Post: "We love Netanyahu too but we just want Feiglin because Likud must stay loyal to the land of Israel, the people of Israel and the Torah of Israel."
A Likud activist named Lior, who was representing Danon, said he was glad the World Likud chairman had decided to run so there would be a "sane ideological candidate to vote for."
On the eve of the primary, Netanyahu met with his campaign team at his Tel Aviv headquarters and urged them to do everything possible to get out the vote to drown out the high voter turnout expected among Feiglin supporters.
He even manned the phones for a few minutes, calling undecided activists in front of the cameras.
"There is always the danger of complacency," Netanyahu said. "Most of the Likud members support me, but if they stay home, they will allow our opponents to denounce the Likud as a party on the fringes."
In order to maximize voter turnout, the Likud's central elections committee decided at Netanyahu's request to keep polls open until 11 p.m.
Feiglin called the extended hours a waste of money for the party. Results are expected one hour after the polls close.
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