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Gantz: Time to consider designating La Familia and Lehava as terrorist organizations

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz arrives to a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on May 1, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz arrives to a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on May 1, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz says the “time has come” to consider designating the far-right groups La Familia and Lehava as terrorist organizations, after they were seen at the forefront of the violence and inflammatory rhetoric at yesterday’s Flag March through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter.

Both La Familia and Lehava have been tied to cases of violence against Arabs and Muslims in Israel over the years. La Familia is nominally a fan club of Jerusalem’s Beitar soccer team, though the team has repeatedly distanced itself from the organization for its racist rhetoric and violent antics. Lehava is an anti-miscegenation and anti-homosexual organization that regularly employs violence for its aims, mostly against Arab men. Its members have also been involved in arson attacks on churches and mixed Arab-Jewish schools and one of them was recently indicted for sexually assaulting a female member of the organization.

“As defense minister, I believe that the time has come to consider terrorist organization designations for groups like La Familia and Lehava. I know that the subject has been brought up to security organizations and I trust the heads of the organization to make that consideration in the cleanest and best way possible,” Gantz says.

The defense minister delivers his remarks during his Blue and White party’s faction meeting in the Knesset, following yesterday’s Jerusalem Day celebrations, in which members of both groups were seen attacking Arab residents of the Old City and screaming racist chants like “Death to Arabs” and “Your village should burn,” among others.

In his comments, Gantz says these only made up a small portion of the 70,000 participants in the flag march. He adds that some “extremist Muslim rioters and terrorists” were also violent yesterday on and around the Temple Mount.

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