JAFFA, Israel — Dozens of right-wing Israeli activists marched on Wednesday through part of Jaffa, a mixed Jewish and Arab Israeli neighbourhood of Tel Aviv, for a rally that residents condemned as provocative.
The march passed off largely without incident, though hundreds of police were deployed to protect the activists.
“About 40 right-wing activists marched through part of Jaffa. There were several hundreds police officers there carrying out security measures to ensure the march went as planned,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP.
“Police arrested 16 left-wing activists that arrived in the area and intended to cause disturbances,” he added, saying at least one left-wing activist was detained after throwing stones at police.
The right-wing activists, waved Israeli flags and chanted “Jaffa is Jewish,” as they marched in the ancient port city, which is now part of Israel’s commercial capital Tel Aviv.
Yaakov, one of the marchers who declined to give his last name, said there were no incidents between the demonstrators and left-wing activists.
“We proved that we can brandish Israeli flags in the streets of Jaffa,” he told AFP.
Ahmed Balaha, a lawyer and Jaffa resident, criticised the march, but said that angered residents had decided to refrain from protesting, and were instead holding a one-day strike.
“This is part of the campaign to make Jaffa Jewish and to evict the Arabs from the city,” he told AFP.
“It’s a provocation and an attempt to spoil the relations between Arabs and Jews, who live peacefully together here.”
The march follows similar ones organised by right-wing Jewish activists in the northern Arab-Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm and the Palestinian east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan.