Israeli police detain 16 pro-Netanyahu activists in Jerusalem
Israeli police detained a number of suspected far-right extremists in Jerusalem who assaulted journalists before attempting to attack anti-Netanyahu protesters on Thursday night, the Israeli newspaper The Times of Israel reported.
A far-right organisation called La Familia, which is ostensibly a fan club for the football club Beitar Jerusalem, held a rally to counter ongoing protests against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who faces a series of corruption charges.
Far-right extremists have carried out a series of attacks on anti-Netanyahu protesters in recent days. Around 2,000 people gathered in Jerusalem to protest against Netanyahu on Thursday night.
The far-right activists chanted “Death to leftists”, and threw rocks at journalists, according to The Times of Israel. Israeli police said that 16 people were arrested for “disturbing public order, attacking demonstrators and attacking a police officer”.
A video of the rally showed a photographer from Israel’s Channel 13 being knocked to the ground by the extremists.
The La Familia members also threw stones at a car carrying Palestinian passengers and blocked roads around the historic First Railway Station in Jerusalem.
They sang, “This is the Jewish state, I hate all the Arabs,” as they entered the station.
The La Familia group has gained growing notoriety in Israel following the first attacks on anti-Netanyahu protesters one week ago. Last Saturday, Israeli police arrested members of the group who had allegedly attacked protesters.
On Tuesday, far-right hooligans attacked anti-government protesters with glass bottles, clubs, chairs, and mace outside the home of Israeli Public Security Minister Amir Ohana. Ten people were taken to hospital afterwards.
Opposition leaders have directly blamed Netanyahu for the violence, saying that the right-wing prime minister incited it through statements against the protesters, who Netanyahu describes as anarchists.
“The violence and blood spilled yesterday in Tel Aviv is on the hands of Netanyahu and his messengers. One who sows incitement will receive blood in return. Calling protesters spreaders of disease and inciting against civilians who protest is leading Israel into a civil war,” opposition leader Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid party said on Wednesday.
Netanyahu is currently on trial on a series of charges including receiving bribes from billionaire friends and offering regulatory favours to owners of media organizations in exchange for favourable coverage.
Protests calling for Netanyahu to resign have been taking place for weeks.