Police shut down ultranationalist march in Jerusalem, saying terms were violated

Small rally organized by Kahanist group was slated to traverse the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City; police said inflammatory signs and chants meant event couldn’t continue

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

Longtime Kahanist political figure Baruch Marzel confronts a police officer during an ultranationalist protest outside the Old City of Jerusalem, December 7, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Longtime Kahanist political figure Baruch Marzel confronts a police officer during an ultranationalist protest outside the Old City of Jerusalem, December 7, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

A far-right march organized by Kahanists and Jewish ultranationalists which had been slated to go through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem was stopped by police Thursday night before it even got going.

Police had approved the controversial march on Wednesday despite high tensions in the country amid the ongoing war with Hamas in Gaza, but blocked the procession as soon as it set out from IDF Square at the bottom of Jaffa Street toward the Old City. Some 100-150 activists were gathered at the scene.

A police spokesperson said marchers had violated the terms of the event as agreed with police, by bringing inflammatory signs and leading provocative chants.

Some demonstrators chanted “Eject the Waqf,” in reference to the role played by the Jordanian Waqf in administering the Temple Mount, while other chants heard at the rally included “Leftists are traitors.” At least one individual chanted at the police “You are the whores of the Arabs.”

On display at the beginning of the march were signs saying “We demand vengeance,” “A bullet in the head of every terrorist,” “Coexistence with the enemy is impossible,” and “A D9 [bulldozer] on the Temple Mount is the true victory,” implying that the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock shrines at the holy site should be demolished.

When police began confiscating these signs, demonstrators broke out in chants of “Democracy,” referencing the same chant used by anti-government protesters during the demonstrations against the government’s judicial overhaul agenda, before the war with Hamas erupted.

Protesters voice their anger with the police at an ultranationalist protest that was blocked outside the Old City of Jerusalem, December 7, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

“Heroes against Jews, weak against Arabs,” was another chant directed at the police as one protester was detained.

The original approval by the police for the march, and particularly its route through the Muslim Quarter and the highly sensitive Old City, had been heavily criticized for its potential to ignite civil unrest and riots in Jerusalem and beyond.

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid said the march was “a blatant Kahanist attempt to set ablaze additional fronts and cause more death and destruction,” and called for it to be stopped.

The march was organized by an explicitly Kahanist, ultranationalist organization called “The Jewish Truth,” led by longtime far-right political figure Baruch Marzel, and organizers said the message of the rally was to call for “full Jewish control” on the Temple Mount and for the authority of the Waqf there to be annulled.

Longtime Kahanist political figure Baruch Marzel seen during an ultranationalist protest outside the Old City of Jerusalem, December 7, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Following the police’s decision to stop the march, Marzel rejected arguments that it had endangered public security and strongly protested law enforcement’s actions.

“Nothing can create more violence. We learned that in the most quiet period in Israel we had what happened on Simhat Torah; there were no marches, no nothing,” said Marzel, in reference to the October 7 atrocities committed by the Hamas terror group when it slaughtered 1,200 people in southern Israel that day.

Speaking on the decision to halt the rally, Marzel alleged that “in Israel there’s no democracy for the right wing — only for the leftists.”

The demonstrators were overwhelmingly young men and boys, and included an eclectic mix of Kahanist radicals and hardline settler activists, along with ultra-Orthodox, religious-Zionist and religiously traditional youths.

The march was organized by a new, radical organization called the Sons of Mount Moriah, which is itself a Temple Mount rights group associated with The Jewish Truth.

The Jewish Truth advocates for the removal of Muslim holy sites on the Temple Mount, the rebuilding of a Jewish Temple there, and the forcible transfer from Israel of anyone who has voted for Arab political parties.

Its X account is replete with inflammatory posts against Arabs, including one that refers to MK Ahmad Tibi of Hadash-Ta’al as a dog and calls for him to be “hanged in the city center in an official ceremony of the State of Israel.”

The Sons of Mount Moriah X account expresses praise for the late Jewish supremacist rabbi Meir Kahane and has numerous images of a Jewish Temple replacing the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, as well as images of aerial strikes raining down on the Muslim holy site.

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