Police, counter-demonstrators clash at ultranationalist rally


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli police and residents of an Arab town clashed during an ultranationalist rally protesting the hard-line Islamic Movement.

Police fired stun grenades and tear gas Wednesday to control counter protests by residents of Umm al-Fahm and their supporters, including several Arab-Israeli lawmakers.

Far-right activists Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir organized the rally. They had held a commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Rabbi Meir Kahane’s murder the previous evening at the Jerusalem Ramada Renaissance Hotel.

Hundreds of police were stationed in Umm al-Fahm to prevent violence from breaking out between the two sides. Israel’s Supreme Court had upheld the right of the protesters to hold the rally.

About 30 protesters arrived in Umm al-Fahm by chartered bus for the short rally. They were escorted out again by police. The clashes reportedly abated in the afternoon.

Two Arab members of the Israeli Knesset were injured in the clashes, as was an Israeli soldier disguised as an Arab. Four policemen were injured and nine counter-demonstrators were arrested for throwing stones at protesters, according to reports.

Marzel held a similar march in the city in March 2009, when clashes also erupted, leading to dozens of injuries and arrests.

On Tuesday night, nearly 1,000 guests attended the Jerusalem event marking the assassination of Kahane, despite efforts to have the program canceled. Organizers said reportedly that it was nearly double the number of attendees they expected.

Kahane, the Kach Party leader who advocated transferring Arabs out of Israel, was shot and killed by an Egyptian-American assassin following a speech in New York City in November 1990.

His party was outlawed in Israel after his murder. The United States, Canada and the European Union consider Kach a terrorist group.

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