Rightists Plan Secret 'Day of Rage' Over West Bank Outpost Demolition

Right-wing activists say they want to relay message that incidents like those at Havat Gilad outpost, where police shot plastic bullets, will lead to protests throughout country.

Right-wing activists are to stage demonstrations Thursday and block roads to protest the security forces' demolition Monday of illegal structures at the Havat Gilad outpost in the West Bank.

The Yesha council of settlements said it opposes the protests and that those behind it are right-wing militants.

Michael Ben-Ari in protest - Tal Cohen - March 3, 2011
Tal Cohen

The activists are trying to keep their plans secret but have reportedly told their supporters that their message is that incidents like those at the Havat Gilad outpost will lead to protests throughout the country aimed at deterring the police from further action.

Some of the police at the outpost Monday were armed with paintball guns. The settlers apparently threw stones and soldiers reportedly fired rubber bullets. A spokesman for the Judea and Samaria police said Monday that protesters were only fired at after stones were thrown.

Thirteen people were hit by rubber bullets in the clash, settlers said. Eight settlers were arrested, sparking protests, which included blocking junctions in the West Bank and intersections in Jerusalem.

The Border Police has placed its special anti-riot units on alert ahead of today's planned protest, particularly in the West Bank, and have water trucks outfitted with hoses for riot control at the ready.

Border Police are also preparing for the possibility of clashes between settlers and Arabs.

Human rights groups Yesh Din and B'Tselem yesterday demanded that the Israel Defense Forces protect Palestinians from the demonstrations today. Ido Tamari, of the legal defense team of Yesh Din, wrote: "We are asking you urgently to allocate all necessary forces to protect life, limb and property of Palestinians during the 'day of rage.'"

Meanwhile, a number of right-wing activists marched yesterday in Jaffa. They were led by MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union ), and activists Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir. Hundreds of police formed a human chain around the protesters as they marched from Clocktower Square up Yefet Street to the Andromeda complex, flying Israeli flags and repeatedly calling for a "Jewish Jaffa."

The police wanted to make sure there was no contact between the right-wing protesters and a number of Arabs and left-wing Jewish counter-demonstrators.

Mounted police were also at the scene, and a police helicopter and zeppelin hovered overhead.

A former senior police official said he believed the cost of security for the demonstration ran as high as NIS 200,000. He said the police had no choice but to permit provocative demonstrations of this nature, and if it prohibited them, the High Court of Justice would step in to make sure they could take place.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai called the protest "a provocation of the highest order." He said its only purpose was "to try to foment and harm the shared fabric of life between Arabs and Jews in Jaffa."

Demonstration organizers said they were protesting the flying of Palestinian flags at an Arab demonstration in Jaffa a month ago.

"We heard the head of the Islamic Movement say Jaffa is Palestine," Marzel said. "We tell them, go to Libya, to Gadhafi. It's time that Jews were not afraid to walk around Jaffa any time of the day or night. We want to drive out the enemies."

Ben-Ami called on "loyal citizens of Jaffa" to fly Israeli flags from their homes.

The leaders of Jaffa's Arab community said they had decided not to hold a large counter-demonstration because they did not want to be dragged into a provocation. However, some Jaffa residents lined the street along the route of the protest march. "The Jews of Jaffa are against you. You came to ruin our lives. Go home," Oded, a Jaffa resident called out. Others called the marchers fascists and racists.

Before the march began, police arrested 16 left-wing activists and Jaffa residents, including Michael Roeh, a former deputy mayor of Tel Aviv represeting Meretz. The police were apparently going to charge them with disturbing the peace. "There was hysteria like I've never seen," Roeh said. He also said the police used force against him, a charge the police denied.