Dozens of right-wing activists, led by Baruch Marzel, Itamar Ben Gvir and MK Michael Ben Ari, candidates of the ultra-right-wing Otzma Leyisrael party, marched without incident on Tuesday morning in the Arab town of Musmus, some 20 miles southeast of Haifa in the Wadi Ara area.
The procession, the latest in a series of similar demonstrations that the three have held in Arab towns and neighborhoods around the country, was countered by hundreds of residents and their supporters, and the police deployed a large contingency to keep the peace.
Marches through other Arab towns by far-right activists have turned violent in the past. In 2010, police and Arab protesters clashed in the city of Umm al-Fahm, also in Wadi Ara, during a right-wing rally.
The newly formed Otzma Leyisrael (Power for Israel) party has made Israel’s Arab population a focus of its Knesset campaign, running ads calling on Arabs to pay taxes and play a more equitable role in Israeli society, ahead of elections on January 22. Critics have accused the party of peddling racism against Arabs.
According to the marchers, they came to the town to examine illegal construction in the area. Ben Gvir said that “the village is a symbol for non-enforcement… Those who demand rights must accept duties,” according to Ynet.
One Musmus resident called the marchers “lunatic racists” and accused them of “provoking the entire region,” but another said they should be allowed to march “without a protest or strike,” because confrontations only give them “undeserved publicity.”
Joshua Davidovich contributed to this report.