Yoav Zitun
March 2, 2011 - 1:00am

Traffic was halted on one of Jaffa's main streets Wednesday morning as 60 right-wing activists prepared to march in protest against "the Islamic Movement's operations in the city" and "the Islamic takeover". Large police forces were deployed to prevent clashes with residents.

As the marchers proceeded down the street residents called out, "racists go home" and some clashes broke out. Police detained 16 left-wing activists for questioning after an officer was lightly injured in the clashes.

Hundreds of Border Guard and special forces officers secured the route of the march, and a police chopper was also mobilized.

Among participants in the march are MK Michael Ben-Ari and extreme right-wing activists Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir. They marched with Israeli flags and signs that said "Jaffa for the Jews".

Residents of Jaffa soon appeared on the street to protest against the march. Residents of the city called marchers "fascists and racists", and held up signs saying, "Extreme rightist racism equals neo-Nazism in blue and white". Many claim that the marchers are trying to destroy the city's coexistence.

Marzel, who organized the march, said in response to this, "We heard the leaders of the Islamic Movement say last month that Jaffa is Palestine. We say to them, Go to Libya, to Gaddafi. It's time Jews stopped being afraid to wander about Jaffa during all hours."

The former deputy mayor of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Michael Roeh of Meretz, was forcefully removed from the scene by police early on for trying to stop activists from beginning the march.

His girlfriend, Revital Lampert, said they had come to express their contempt for the march. "I don't understand why Michael was taken forcefully," she said after her partner was placed in a police cruiser and driven off.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai inveighed against the march, telling Police Commander Shahar Ayalon that it was "a serious provocation".

But the High Court of Justice approved the march after requiring that its organizers, who wanted to pass through the famous Arab neighborhood of Ajami, change the route to a less provocative location.

Arab institutions located in Jaffa have announced that they will ask residents to refrain from being "dragged into" riots, but a high-ranking official in the Arab community told Ynet that many may refuse to be reined in.

Kamal Agbaria, chairman of Ajami's neighborhood committee, threatened revenge. "At the end of the month, on our Land Day, we will pay them back and march in Kiryat Arba," he said.


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