Two people were arrested as thousands of leftists and Arabs – including residents of the Palestinian Authority – held an “alternative” ceremony for Israel Memorial Day. They were faced off by hundreds of rightwing demonstrators, who protested the co-opting of the day set aside for the memory of Israeli soldiers killed in battle with Arab enemies for an expression of sympathy with the Arabs who killed them.
This is the 14th year that the event has been held in Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv, sponsored by a series of far-left groups, including Peace Now, Machsom Watch and others. The event is meant to bring together both Jewish and Arab families whose loved ones have died in terrorist attacks, whether they were Jewish victims or Arab perpetrators killed by IDF soldiers. Meretz head Tamar Zandberg told Maariv that she was there “to honor the memory of the fallen, to support peace and coexistence, and to express solidarity against incitement and violence.”
Among those attending were about 100 PA Arabs, who were allowed in by order of the High Court after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu refused to allow them to attend, citing a security risk. Netanyahu termed the decision “wrong and disappointing. There is no place for a memorial service that equates between the blood of our children and that of terrorists. That is why I refused to allow these ‘activists’ to enter Israel. I do not believe there was any justification for the High Court to intervene.”
Police attempted to keep the rightwing protesters away from the event, but individuals on both sides on the edge of each group engaged in name-calling and sporadic fistfights. Police arrested two of the rightwing protesters for refusing to back down when ordered to. Rightwing attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir said that the group was protesting “against the insanity in which we honor the ‘memories’ of people who threw rocks and firebombs at us, and, thank G-d, were shot and killed. The evil that the authorities have imposed on us has no limits, with police separating us and keeping us off to the side where no one can see us.
“It’s not an accident that it is the granddaughter of Shimon Peres – the one who brought these murderers into our midst with his Oslo Agreement – who is running this event,” said Ben-Gvir. “She is closing the circle he opened. They should be ashamed of themselves.”