Court upholds Umm el-Fahm march

Police and Justice Ministry criticized for delays; march to take place within 6 weeks of elections.

marzel ben-gvir sakhnin 248 88 (photo credit: Channel 1 [file])
marzel ben-gvir sakhnin 248 88
(photo credit: Channel 1 [file])
The Israel Police and the Justice Ministry were dealt a blow on Wednesday when the High Court of Justice criticized them for repeatedly delaying a planned right-wing protest through the streets of Umm el-Fahm. Justice Edmond Levy chided the state's representative, attorney Michal Tzuk, for discriminating against the appellants - far-Right activists Itamar Ben-Gvir and Baruch Marzel. Marzel and Ben-Gvir had challenged the decision by Northern District Police to delay the march in spite of two previous High Court rulings that the march must be allowed to take place. The first such appeal was in September. After Wednesday's hearing, both sides came to an agreement that the procession would be held 45 days after the upcoming Knesset elections. Levy asserted that police must allow the protest organizers to march with Israeli flags through the streets of the largest town in the Wadi Ara region, the site of violent confrontations between locals and security forces in the past. Northern District Police Cmdr. Shimon Koren had repeatedly claimed that the march had to be delayed due to threats made against its participants. Levy argued that it was obvious the threats would exist no matter what the date. "If you came across a request by a group of any sort, that wants to demonstrate for peace between Palestinians and Israelis while carrying Israeli and PLO flags, and there were threats against them, would you also say to them, 'Wait for the elections'?" asked Levy. "The State of Israel needs to exercise its authority within each of its cities." Ben-Gvir said Wednesday that he hoped the court would exercise its authority to arrest Koren for disregarding the court's previous rulings allowing the march to be held. "When there was the Gay Pride March and Jerusalem was burning, everyone said, 'What can you do? You have to protect freedom of expression,'" argued Ben-Gvir. "When the Left wants to protest in Hebron, even when the entire city stands in protest, everyone says that they must be allowed in the name of freedom of expression. But the one time in history that the Right wants freedom of expression, you don't have to be a right-winger to understand that the police's decision is simply cynical." He added that "if there are threats, it shouldn't be a problem to bring thousands of police officers to Umm el-Fahm, just as they brought thousands to Hebron [to evacuate] Beit Hashalom or 13,000 to Jerusalem for the Gay Pride Parade. We are putting a mirror before Israeli society, showing the hypocrisy of the police and the Justice Ministry; before the press that usually writes that the police must uphold freedom of expression and allow the Left to march."