Police Use Force to Block Protest March to Kotel

Street blocked by hundreds of protesters demanding end to terror, police refuse march, arrest 5 protesters claiming clashes.

Ido Ben-Porat ,

Jerusalem counter-terror protest (file)
Jerusalem counter-terror protest (file)
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

Hundreds of nationalist activists protested in Jerusalem's central Sacher Park on Thursday night starting at 9 p.m., in a demonstration against the lack of clear decisive action by the government to end the rising wave of Arab terrorism.

The protest planned to leave from the park and march to the Kotel (Western Wall) Plaza, but police used force to prevent the march.

The protesters refused to be prevented from marching to the Kotel, and hundreds of them blocked traffic on Betzalel Street after getting through the police barriers in Sacher Park.

One of the protesters was arrested for carrying a knife on him, potentially for self-defense in light of the numerous stabbings by Arabs taking place in recent days. Police claim protesters threw rocks at them, and a total of five protesters were arrested.

Two protesters were lightly wounded. They claim they were wounded by police officers who tried to physically force them back towards Sacher Park and block them from marching. The police claim the protesters threw rocks at them, without explaining how the wounds were sustained.

One of the five arrested was Bentzi Gopshtain, director of the Lehava anti-assimilation organization.

Despite the claims of rock throwing, video of the arrest clearly shows protesters shouting "police state" as Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir asks what Gopshtain is being arrested for, at which he is told: "taking part in a disorderly assembly, I informed him he knows."

"The Israel police are strong against Jews, harming their freedom of speech and preventing their right to march," said the protesters. "Instead of containing the protest as they do with Arabs, the police are taking a discriminatory policy."

Aside from Ben-Gvir and Gopshtain, other members of the Otzma Yehudit party were also present, including former MK Dr. Michael Ben-Ari who is head of the party, and Hevron activist Baruch Marzel who ran as the party's candidate on a joint list with Yachad - Ha'am Itanu in the last elections, just barely missing the threshold.

Despite the claims of rock throwing at the police, Ben-Ari posted on Facebook a selfie picture in which he is seen smiling together with a mounted police officer, and wrote that he strengthens the hands of the security forces in their battle against Arab terror.