Israeli calls for far-right Lehava organisation to be banned

Israeli MP calls for Jewish supremacist Lehava group to be banned, labelled terrorists
2 min read
23 June, 2021
Ram Ben Barak called for Lehava to be labeled as terrorists and for their funding arm to be shut down.
The far-right group Lehava have frequently protested against Palestinians in Israel [Getty]

An Israeli lawmaker is calling for the Jewish supremacist organisation Lehava to be outlawed and branded as a terror group, according to reports by The Jerusalem Post

MK Ram Ben Barak of Yesh Atid, who also serves as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, wrote to Defence Minister Benny Gantz and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, requesting that 2016 counter-terrorism legislation be used to ban the group. 

"I, therefore, call on you to use your authority as defence minister to advance a speedy and determined process which will result in the declaration of Lehava as a terror group and the outlawing of the organisation," the letter read. 

Additionally, Ben Barak is also seeking to ban the Foundation for the Rescue of the Jewish People, a non-profit organisation, which reports say serves as a fundraiser for the extremist group.

Writing to the defence minister, Ben Barak highlighted recent attacks on Palestinian citizens of Israel, which have allegedly been planned and executed by the group, specifically during the recent violence that took place against the backdrop of Israel's recent war on Gaza. 

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The Knesset member also pointed to accusations made by Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai, who previously accused Lehava and far-right MK Itamar Ben-Gvir of being responsible for instigating violence between Jews and Palestinians in Israel.

"It began with the demonstration of Lehava at Damascus Gate [of the Old City of Jerusalem], continued with the provocation in the [East Jerusalem neighbourhood of] Sheikh Jarrah, and now he [Ben-Gvir] goes around with Lehava activists in cities," Shabtai commented at the time, which was used as supporting evidence in Ben Barak's letter. 

Ben Barak also pointed to the testimony of Palestinian mayors, who said that members of Lehava were present and active in the mixed city of Lod when violence broke out. Israeli media at the time reported that they were planning to attack Palestinians with petrol bombs. 

"These incidents which took place last month represent proof that the Lehava organisation is currently a dangerous and violent organisation," explained Ben Barak.

The head of Lehava, Ben-Zion 'Bentzi' Gopstein, rejected the accusations.

"The world is upside down when those who sit in a government with the Islamic Movement [the Raam party] are trying to outlaw Lehava," he told The Jerusalem Post