16 Leftists Arrested at Protest Against Right-wing March in Jaffa

March is organized by right-wing activists who want to protest 'Islamic Movement gaining control over [the city]'; Arab residents close businesses in protest.

Police arrested sixteen left-wing protesters who were demonstrating against a right-wing march through Jaffa on Wednesday.

The march, organized by National Union MK Michael Ben-Ari and right-wing activists Itamar Ben-Gvir and Baruch Marzel was in protest of what they deemed the "Islamic Movement gaining control over [the city]."

Right-wing protesters in Jaffa - Tal Cohen, March 2, 2011
Tal Cohen

The march comes just a few days after the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality announced a plan to build affordable housing exclusively for Jaffa's Arab residents.

Police spent the morning preparing the city to prevent confrontation between the right wing marchers and Jaffa's Arab residents. Roads surrounding the planned route of the march, which began at the city's clock tower, have been closed to traffic.

During the march, Marzel said the "Islamic Movement is very strong in Jaffa," adding "we want to cast out the enemies."

Left-wing protesters and Arab residents followed the march, calling out to the right-wing marchers. The marchers were escorted by a heavy police force, who kept the marchers and protesters separated by forming a fortified ring around the march.

Police prep in Jaffa - Tal Cohen - March 2, 2011
Tal Cohen

Arab workers in the city decided to strike during the time that the march is taking place.

One of the march organizers, Michael Ben-Ari, called on Arab residents in the city to hang the Israeli flag in their homes.

"I am ready to supply you with the flags," Ben-Ari said adding that he would hang them himself.

"There have always been Jews and Arabs together in Jaffa, in coexistence and with mutual respect," Tel Aviv councilman Ahmed Mashharawi said on Wednesday. "These people's march reveals their true ugly face. As long as they don’t harm the routine of the residents, we won't allow them the pleasure of receiving a headline on our account."

Jaffa is a mixed city where both Jews and Arabs live; of the 46,000 residents, 17,000 are Arab.