Tel Aviv (TPS) – A rally in support of Cpl. Elor Azarya, a medic on trial for manslaughter after being filmed shooting a wounded Palestinian Authority terrorist, drew approximately 2,000 people to Rabin square in Tel Aviv on Tuesday evening, according to police estimates.
“Don’t neutralize terrorists, kill them,” protesters chanted in support of Azarya. Others held signs reading “A dead terrorist can’t return to murdering Jews,” and “Neutralized = Dead.”
According to Azarya’s indictment by the military prosecution, he acted against the rules of engagement and without military justification. The case has shaken Israeli society and become a hotly contested political issue. The majority of Israelis support the soldier.
A violent incident erupted at the rally when participants attacked a Channel 10 News reporter, Moav Vardi. The incident was quickly broken up by undercover policemen and ended without, stated a police spokesperson.
The event was conceived and organized by Sharon Gal, a former right-wing member of Knesset with the Yisrael Beiteinu party, who invited several Israeli pop stars to provide musical interludes between speeches given by members of the Azarya family.
“This is a far-right rally, meant to weaken the IDF values and ethical code,” said Opposition leader and head of the Zionist Union party Isaac Herzog who is currently under investigation for corruption. “No member of government will attend it.”
Commenting on the incident and the rally, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “I suggest that everyone just lower the flames.”
Two American presidents urged Israelis at a peace rally marking the 20th anniversary of the murder of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to take risks for peace — but neither has ever had any personal experience with taking such a risk themselves.
Thousands attended the rally Saturday night in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square marking the 20-year anniversary of the assassination of the late prime minister during a peace rally on Nov 4, 1995.
Two U.S. presidents spoke at the event, and while both spoke on the importance of taking risks for peace, neither personally risked anything for that lofty cause at the rally, nor in the past, ever.
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin also declared, “We should have no fear. Israel’s democracy is solid enough, and we are brave enough and strong enough to open wide Israel’s gates so that all the groups within us may play an equal part in shaping the character and future of the State of Israel.”
And Israel has indeed opened her gates. The gates are opened so wide that Israeli Arab Knesset members legally call upon constituents to destroy the very nation in whose parliament they participate, and with whose tax monies their salaries and benefits are paid.
“We should have no fear,” declared President Rivlin, but the question is, from what? Thousands of police forces have been called in to beef up security in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and Arab terror attacks continue to escalate in the current wave of terror.
Both American leaders called on Israelis to take risks for peace, while neither has ever physically done so themselves.
U.S. President Barack Obama spoke in a pre-recorded video, intoning, “A bullet can take a man’s life, but his spirit and his dream of peace will never die.” It was a message nearly identical to that of Hezbollah and Hamas, if one deletes the “dream of peace.”
Hugely popular former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who was the keynote speaker at the event, spoke from behind bulletproof glass.
“After all the fighting and battles he engaged in, he never stopped seeing other people, including his adversaries, as human beings,” Clinton said.
“All of you must decide … how to finish his legacy, for the last chapter must be written by the people he gave his life to, to save and to nourish.
“You have to decide that the risks for peace are not as severe as the risks of walking away from it,” he told those who attended the rally.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is more than familiar with those risks, having served in the IDF’s elite Sayeret Matkal special ops unit in his youth, met with Clinton at the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem on Friday.
Police said Monday morning that anarchists incited protesters to violence in last night’s march in Tel Aviv against police brutality and racism, undermining the demonstrators’ objectives.
Protesters were armed with rocks and metal objects which they hurled at police officers, 56 of whom were injured lightly. Police arrested 43 demonstrators and hurled stun grenades in the middle of a crowd blocking a major artery at rush-hour in Tel Aviv.
Both a senior police official and “Elazar,” who made Aliyah from Ethiopia years before the massive airlift in Operation Shlomo, told Voice of Israel radio (Reshet Bet) that the protest turned violent partly because of anarchists, whom the interviewer later said could be “leftists or rightists,” although the term “right-wing anarchist” in Israel is almost contradictory.
Left-wing elements, many of them funded by American Jews and non-Jews, often have been accused of inciting Arabs and illegal African immigrants to violence.
The charge of “racism,” which undoubtedly is true but not always to the Nth degree as sometimes described, is a good way to rile up the riff-raff. That is exactly what happened last night.
Mahratta Baruch-Ron, the deputy mayor Tel Aviv and an Ethiopian, tried to calm down the protesters, but to no avail; the anarchists and trouble-makers took over.
Like last week’s protest in Jerusalem that turned violent when nearly 1,000 protesters surged towards to the official residence of the Prime Minister, last night’s demonstration lacked responsible leadership.
Police did not interfere Sunday night even when protesters blocked major arteries near Rabin Square in downtown Tel Aviv, and it appeared that some people in the crowd were itching for a fight by deciding to proceed towards the high-speed intra-city Ayalon Highway.
Yediot Acharonot, which never misses an opportunity to whitewash leftist criminals and find cause against Netanyahu, reported that “social activists” joined the protesters.
The protests were sparked by a video shown on Israeli television last week of two policemen assaulting, without any provocation, an Ethiopian soldier, who was clad with kippa. Discrimination against Ethiopians is widespread while the police show no discrimination when it comes to excessive violence.
The protesters have concentrated on racism, while political leaders, including Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) chairman Naftali Bennett, have hitched a ride on the “race card” rather than pursuing the opportunity to demand massive reform in the police force.
The plagues of racism and violence against police, as well as police violence against civilians, elicited an immediate response from Prime Minister Netanyahu.
He is meeting Monday with Ethiopian community representatives, soldier Damas Pakada who was filmed being beaten by the policemen. Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino, and representatives of the Public Security, Social Affairs and Social Services, Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, and Interior ministries.
They will make statements announcing funding for projects aimed at the Ethiopian community and will ignore police brutality.
The new protest movement is continuing Monday morning with a march in Jerusalem. Travelers are advised that major arteries, including Sderot Herzl, Rabin, Shazar, Ben Tzvi and Ruppin are closed as of 11 a.m.
The U.S. Embassy yesterday warned citizens that protests that are “intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence” and advised, “You should avoid areas of demonstrations, and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.”
Below, an Ethiopian protester tells Channel 2, in Hebrew, that outside inciters turned the peaceful march into a violent riot.
Dror Morag, the Secretary General of the Meretz party, and Mossi Raz, a Meretz candidate, will be filing a complaint with the Elections committee demanding the cancellation of this Sunday’s rightwing rally at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv.
They claim the rally’s location is in violation of election laws.
The leftwing’s rally last week only managed to gather 35,000 people.
A lot more people are expected to be at tomorrow’s rightwing rally, possibly including Prime Minister Netanyahu.
For a party that claims to be concerned about civil rights, Meretz seem to have a problem with freedom of speech and assembly when it comes to their political adversaries.
Government leaders are promising the nation that Operation Brother’s Keeper will not end until the killers of three innocent Israeli teens are tracked down and brought to justice.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon promised to track down the killers of Eyal Yifrach, 19, Naftali Frenkel, 16 and Gilad Sha’ar, 16 – and to punish Hamas for the crime.
“We view Hamas as being responsible for the murders,” Ya’alon told reporters Tuesday morning, “and we know how to settle accounts with them.” The defense minister made it clear that Operation Brother’s Keeper will continue until the boys’ killers were found.
“We will continue to hunt down the boys’ murderers and we will not rest nor remain silent until we get our hands on them,” he promised.
Ya’alon said in a message to the boys’ families that “the heavy sorrow which envelops you envelops the entire nation” but praised their strength during the two and a half week ordeal that preceded the discovery of their sons’ bodies. It was that, he said, that allowed the IDF, the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and the Israel Police “the strength to continue to search to its bitter end.”
The defense minister likewise praised the security forces who didn’t rest until they found the boys, noting their “impressive demonstration of cooperation and sense of mission.”
Yesh Atid chairman and Finance Minister Yair Lapid also vowed Tuesday morning that Operation Brother’s Keeper will continue until the terrorists who murdered the teens are caught — and he was similarly supportive of the families and the security forces.
Lapid said openly that it broke his heart when he heard the teens’ bodies were found Monday evening.
“I want to send a warm embrace to their families and promise them that we will continue to hunt down those responsible for this crime,” he said.
“Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay a heavy price,” he vowed – like Ya’alon, echoing the statement made Monday night by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at an emergency meeting of the security cabinet.
“We will continue to act with determination until we find these murderers. This is our responsibility, to act against anyone who tries to harm the safety of our children.”
Early Tuesday, IDF soldiers raided the homes of the two Hamas terrorists identified as the prime suspects in the kidnapping and murders of the boys – Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisha – both of whom remain at large and are ‘veterans’ of the Israeli prison system.
Both also have a history of praying together at the same mosque, and since they are residents of Hevron in the Beit Khalil region it has now been sealed off for an intensified search effort around the area.