Radical activists gear up for street battles after right-wing assault on anti-government rally; leftist protesters forming self-defense squads as internal strife in Israel grows.
Domestic infighting escalated dangerously this week as right-wing thugs attacked a leftist march in Tel Aviv with beer bottles and bats. Some of the assailants were identified on social media as members of a fan group of the Maccabi Tel Aviv soccer club. Five people suffered injuries in the incident.
The assault followed increasingly aggressive anti-Netanyahu rallies where some protesters disrupted the peace and clashed with police. A anarchist fringe within the protest movement appears intent on sowing discord on Israel’s streets via inflammatory rhetoric and militant tactics.
Meanwhile, protests against state symbols and infuriated responses by right-wing officials sparked a backlash on the right.
This week, the far right La Familia organization vowed to stand up to the protesters. This fan group of Jerusalem’s premier league soccer team will hold a rally in the capital Thursday evening. Group members were already “hunting” for leftist activists in previous events, protesters said.
Shin Bet Must Monitor Radicals
As the threat of major violence grows, anti-government protesters are taking steps to protect themselves, Haaretz reported. Activists collected funds to hire a private security firm, and veterans of IDF combat units will be patrolling potential flashpoints.
However, there are concerns that radical activists are preparing more aggressive plans behind the scenes. There is also a growing risk that right-wing assaults will trigger revenge attacks.
The police, under fire for their weak response to the latest violence, now have a clear mission: To snuff out this dangerous dynamic in its early stages. On Thursday, the acting police commissioner pledged to ensure the safety of all protesters.
However, words alone are not enough. The police, working in tandem with the Shin Bet Security service, must use all means to monitor and disrupt the plans of extremists. This includes identifying and if warranted arresting the most radical individuals on both sides. Otherwise, Israel could soon plunge into unprecedented domestic chaos.