Right-wing activists accost, threaten ‘leftist’ drivers at 2 kibbutz entrances
On Monday, far-right activists blocked and threatened drivers at the entrances to two kibbutz communities because of their belief that residents are against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government’s attempt to reform the judiciary.
The attacks were the latest in a series of incidents of violence, harassment and intimidation by right-wing protesters amid national unrest fueled by Netanyahu’s government’s legislative efforts.
The attackers blocked traffic junctions at the entrances to Ein Harod and nearby Tel Yosef in northern Israel, set tires on fire, threw stones at vehicles and threw and cursed at their occupants, Haaretz reported.
The far-right activists allowed vehicles to pass if they appeared to be from the nearby city of Beit Shean, a stronghold of Netanyahu’s Likud party, or if the drivers were religious.
Drivers from the kibbutz were taken as “leftists” and their cars were impounded. The communities of Kibet are seen as mostly left wing.
In videos from the scene obtained by Haaretz, some of which were posted on social media, the activists were seen blocking the vehicles while a pro-Netanyahu song blared in the background. Some drivers applauded as they passed.
The crowd of activists was seen taunting drivers as “leftists,” using anti-LGBTQ slurs, and taunting drivers as they sat in their cars and lined up vehicles on the street.
In one of the videos, a right-wing activist blocked a driver and demanded that they support far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir and Netanyahu, referring to the prime minister by his nickname.
ביביסטים בראשם איציק זרקא מתעללים בנההים שככרו מהפא pic.twitter.com/gmF52m2FSm
— לירי בורק שביט (@lirishavit) March 28, 2023
“There’s nothing you can do, leftists can’t go up. Say that Bibi is the man, that you are crazy about Bibi and Ben Gvir, and that you will be allowed to go home,” he told an elderly driver.
“Say Bibi is the prime minister and I support the reforms and Ben Gvir is the minister of national security, the meanest person the country has ever had.”
One of the activists was Itzik Zarka, a Likud activist who is related to the Netanyahu family who do not live in the area of the incident, Haaretz reported.
One of the drivers said he was stopped at an intersection while coming home from a basketball game with his 7-year-old son, who found the incident frightening.
“I tried to go around them like the drivers in front of me, but they wouldn’t let me continue driving. They were burning a tire in the middle of the road, throwing big rocks on the road, and they started gathering around the car, knocking on the windows, some of them with rocks in their hands,” said one of the drivers.
He said his son “got hysterical and started crying and asking him what they want from us, what we had done, that we are good people.”
The driver said he called the police, who ignored him, and a Border Police vehicle that arrived on the scene blew off his appeal for help and left the intersection without taking any action.
He then took his son out of the vehicle and the attackers beat him with fists and elbows as he left the area. The driver later found a policeman and took him back to the scene, where the officer told the attackers to clear the stones from the street and allow vehicles to pass.
“I’m more worried about my son. He said that he does not want to live here, that he feels that he lives with enemies around them who want to kill him,” he said.
The activists blocked another driver after she refused their orders to open her car window.
“Just as you all blocked the Ayalon, that’s what you will feel now. Get it?” the attackers said, referring to the highway in Tel Aviv blocked by anti-government protesters over the weekend.
עדו קשעם מהטוב yesterday in צומת תל יוסף. אבל אל תחשעסו בעברים, מותר להם. You know. זה באשמט מה שהקיבוצניקים המנוולים עשו להם, זה מוצטן. بلاسی تبینو وهم?????????????????? pic.twitter.com/g6uTzJpYQH
— Omer Einav (@omer_einav) March 28, 2023
Israel Police said in a statement that three suspects were arrested and questioned over the incident.
“The police will continue to allow freedom of expression and protest in accordance with the law, and will maintain public order,” the police said in a statement.
The incident was the latest in a series of attacks and threats by right-wing protesters.
On Monday in Jerusalem, pro-government protesters attacked demonstrators who were against the judicial overhaul, arresting Arabs, members of the press and police officers.
A crowd of protesters was seen attacking Arab pedestrians and chasing and attacking an Arab taxi driver as he fled the scene in an attempt to escape.
A television news crew from Channel 13 was also attacked on Monday night during the demonstration. Channel 13 reporter Yossi Eli was hospitalized with a broken rib and suspected damage to his spleen while cameraman Avi Cashman suffered a head injury.
Police arrested several suspects on Tuesday in connection with the incidents.
Opposition leaders on Tuesday urged the government and police to crack down on violence by government supporters.
In recent weeks Netanyahu has accused the largely peaceful anti-government protesters of violence and plotting political assassinations.
Mass protests have been held for nearly three months against the proposed legislation, which critics say will politicize the court, remove key checks on government power and seriously damage Israel’s democratic character. Proponents of the measures say they will stay judges who they claim have overstepped their bounds.
Netanyahu announced on Monday night that he was temporarily halting the legislation to allow talks.