Israel’s State Prosecutor’s Office rejected on Wednesday an appeal presented by MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) and right-wing activists Itamar Ben-Gvir and Baruch Marzel regarding a planned protest.
In their appeal, the MK and activists asked that their request be granted to hold a protest in the northern Israel city of Umm al-Fahm in front of the home of Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, and in front of the movement's headquarters, in order to protest the anti Zionist Salah’s participation in the Gaza aid flotilla in May. They argued that the police are violating their basic rights and acting in an unequal manner, since they allow left-wing activists to protest a few feet in front of homes of Jewish Hebron residents yet refuse to allow them to protest outside Salah’s house.
The State Prosecution asked that the court reject the request to hold the protest, citing a “real concern” that the protest would spin out of control and end in deaths. Instead, the Prosecutor suggested that the protest be held at the entrance to the city, a move which would allow freedom of expression while maintaining public order and safety.
“According to police and Shin Bet estimates, there is real concern on the level of near certainty that holding the demonstration of right-wing activists in the requested locations in Umm al-Fahm will result in actual damage to life and limb,” wrote the State Prosecution, and emphasized that the request is based on past experience.
Some past examples cited in the State Prosecutor’s request were a rightist procession held in the city a year and a half ago. During the procession, Deputy Chief of Israel Police, Shachar Ayalon, was wounded after a rock was hurled at his head by an Arab. The deputy chief was pelted with rocks by a crowd of Arab protestors who rioted when they failed to block the planned 500-meter march, which was also led by Ben-Gvir and Marzel. Fifteen other policemen also were injured by Arabs during the march. A second disturbance in Umm al-Fahm occurred when MK Arieh Eldad entered the city in order to serve as ballot chairman.
On Sunday, Salah entered prison to begin serving his five-month prison sentence for rioting and assaulting a police officer. The State Prosecution, in their response to the High Court regarding the appeal, said that the alternative offered to the demonstrators was to hold the protest in front of the jail in which Salah is currently serving his sentence.Right-wing activists expressed their anger at the State Prosecutor’s response and said: “This is surrender to violence and threats. We expect that just as the police could get 13,000 officers to the gay pride parade and maintain the rights of the Open House people to protest, that it could protect us so as to allow us the right to protest.”