Police on Friday prevented several hundred Israeli left-wing activists and Palestinians from holding a protest rally near the Baladim outpost, limiting their actions instead to a mile march along Route 458, near the West Bank settlement of Kochav Hashahar.
Meretz Party head MK Zehava Gal-On posted the IDF order on her twitter page that declared the area a closed military zone. Both she and MK Michal Rozen (Meretz) jointed the protest, which was organized by Peace Now and included members of the left-wing group Tayhush and Haqel – Jews and Arabs in Defense of Human Rights.
Peace Now protest in Kohav Yaakov
Peace Now organized the event to protest an April 21 attack by right-wing extremists against left-wing activists and Palestinian goat herders from the Uja village.
MK Michal Rozin speaks at the protest in Kohav Yaakov
A video from April 21 showed the right-wing extremists throwing stones at the left-wing activists and in some cases hitting them with sticks.
On her way to Friday’s protest, Gal-On sent a tweet from her bus calling the attack a “pogrom.” Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) accused Gal-On on twitter of “incitement,” stating that the “the only pogrom” that had been carried out was one of “false anti-Israel propaganda.”
When Gal-On’s bus along with three others arrived at a spot along Route 458, from where they intended to head to Baladim, police blocked their path.
Some of the activists headed up the surrounding hill, holding Peace Now flags while others held Palestinian ones. A few of the Palestinian demonstrators also held flags in support of jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life terms for murder and terrorist attacks.
A few of the activists banged on drums as the flags fluttered in the breeze. Gal-On and Rozen spoke to the activists through a megaphone.
Rozen linked the protest with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision earlier in the week to cancel his meeting with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel after learning that the German planned to meet with Breaking the Silence activists.
Rozen said that, at a time when Israel is busy with a “diplomatic terrorist attack” singling out left-wing groups, the government’s “militias in the territories” are chasing and harming IDF soldiers and human rights workers. “It can’t be that we have been blocked, but every settler who drives by and says this is our home can enter, because he is not dangerous, but we, the left-wing activists are dangerous to the public,” Rozen said.
“We will continue to be here to protest the occupation,” she added.
The officer in charge told the activists that the issue was that they had not requested a permit for the demonstration and that he feared they could cause a “provocation” if he let them near the Baladim outpost.
After some discussion the police allowed them to march about a mile down the road, before the group dispersed.
Toward the end of the march a few right-wing activists approached the bus showing Israeli flags and one from the nearby Rimonim settlement. Police held them back as they hurled insults at the activists.
Peace Now said that it had been in touch with the police with regard to the demonstration.
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