Supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party scuffled Friday with activists from the left-wing Democratic Camp alliance at Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market as Israelis entered the home stretch of a heated election campaign.
Shaky cellphone footage showed a group of Likud activists walking through the busy market while chanting Netanyahu’s nickname, “Bibi,” before some shoving and pushing broke out with Democratic Camp supporters.
One demonstrator, apparently one of the Democratic Camp supporters, could be heard yelling “corrupt [politicians] go home,” referring to a series of graft cases implicating the prime minister and other top Likud officials.
One of the Democratic Camp activists then appeared to push one of the Likud supporters, prompting another Likud member to swing at the Democratic Camp demonstrator.
Pushing then continued between the two sides as a number of those present tried to stand in between the rival activists.
According to Channel 12 news, activists from the extremist Otzma Yehudit party also took part in the scuffle, which police eventually broke up.
היום בשוק מחנה יהודה בירושלים, תקפו פעילי ליכוד ועוצמה יהודית את פעילי המחנה הדמוקרטי.איפה המשטרה אתם שואלים? ובכן, התוקפים היו חלק מהליווי הפוליטי של השר ארדן. מסקנה: בשילטון הליכוד כבר אין שיוויון בפני החוק, לא לכולנו מגיע ביטחון אישי, יש בוגדים ויש אזרחים ודין שונה וחופש ביטוי שונה נגזר מכך. א ב ליש לכם הזדמנות לשנות את זה בשלישי הקרוב. בכוחכם להחזיר את הביטחון לרחובות, את הזכות לחשוב אחרת. האלימות הזו מוכיחה עד כמה הדמוקרטיה שלנו זקוקה להגנתכם. האלימות היא כרסום יסוד הדמוקרטיה. זוכרים שהבטחתם לא להיות רוב דומם?ביום שלישי חובתכם להוכיח.צאו להצביע! וקחו אתכם שכנים וחברים ומשפחה.שתפו.
פורסם על ידי Noa Rothman ב- יום שישי, 13 בספטמבר 2019
Democratic Camp politicians pinned the violence on Likud’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who earlier visited the market and was accompanied by the activists from the ruling party.
“Gilad Erdan, the minister for public security — this is what the group of thugs looks like that accompanied you,” tweeted Stav Shaffir, the Democratic Camp’s No. 2.
Shaffir said the incident was “a direct result of your [Erdan’s] incitement, of your racist government against anyone who thinks differently.”
Noa Rothman, another Democratic Camp member, asked why no cops were present and noted the Likud supporters had accompanied Erdan, whose ministry is responsible for the police.
“The conclusion: Under Likud rule there is already no equality before the law, not all of us deserve personal security,” she wrote on Facebook.
Erdan did not comment on the incident but posted video of his visit to his social media accounts, writing “there’s nothing like the atmosphere of Mahane Yehuda on a Friday.”
The scuffle occurred during the Friday afternoon crunch at the market, when shoppers and visitors descend on its food stalls and eateries before the start of Shabbat in the evening.
Like other such markets around Israel, Mahane Yehuda is a popular destination for politicians seeking to drum up support among voters.
Friday’s tussle came just days before Israelis go to the polls on September 17 for a second time this year, after Netanyahu failed to form a government following elections in April and pushed through a fresh vote rather than have another lawmaker try to put together a coalition.
Political opponents of the prime minister have expressed concern in recent days over potential violence at voting stations as Likud pushes unproven claims that alleged voter fraud in Arab communities cost Netanyahu a majority in the last elections.
Some analysts have seen Likud’s claims that rival parties are trying to steal the elections as a ploy to shore up backing among right-wing voters and have likened it to Netanyahu’s comments on election day in 2015 that “Arab voters are coming in droves to the polls,” remarks he later apologized for.