Police Raid Homes of anti-Arab Activists, 10 Arrested

Chairman of right-wing group Lehava among those arrested for incitement; members of the organization were charged this week with arson at bilingual Jerusalem school.

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Bentzi Gopstein (R) and other right-wing activists attempt to enter Temple Mount, October 30, 2014
Bentzi Gopstein (R) and other right-wing activists attempt to enter Temple Mount, October 30, 2014Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

Police raided the residences of several members of Lehava, a right-wing, anti-Arab organization early on Tuesday, and arrested, among others, the group's chairman Benzi Gopstein.

In total, ten members were arrested on suspicion of incitement and calling for violent crime.

According to the suspects' lawyer, one of the three Lehava members who were charged on Monday with torching the Hebrew-Arabic bilingual school in Jerusalem had offered to give police incriminating information on Gopstien to secure a lighter sentence.

The lawyer, Itamar Ben Gvir, blamed the arrest on "pressure from leftist politicians."

"Police are taking action against Lehava even though it is clear to them it's a legal organization that overtly works against assimilation," he said. "It's an embarrassment."

Meretz party leader Zahava Gal-On said Tuesday that Lehava should be recognized as a terror group.

"Announcements and publicized arrests aren't enough," she said in a statement. "We must put an end to the feeble response to an organization that uses terrorism and violence against those who work toward coexistence."

Last August, activists from the extremist anti-miscegenation group worked to disrupt the wedding of a Jewish woman and a Muslim man from Jaffa. The organization held a protest, and the couple asked for supporters to come out and demonstrate against the Lehava protest, which was attended by roughly 200 activists.

Later, Lehava's Facebook page was closed after many complaints were filed against the page's many inciting remarks. The page, created in November 2013 had over 35,000 followers when it was closed. At first, the page was used to identify mixed Jewish-Arab couples, and it quickly became a platform for anti-Arab remarks.

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