Police clash with Tel Aviv protesters rallying against Huwara settler rampage

Cops attempt to stop demonstrators blocking exit ramp from major highway; rights group: ‘The settler government is lighting the country on fire’

Protesters rallying against the settler rampage in Huwara block a major intersection in Tel Aviv on February 27, 2023. (Courtesy Standing Together)
Protesters rallying against the settler rampage in Huwara block a major intersection in Tel Aviv on February 27, 2023. (Courtesy Standing Together)

A small protest Monday evening — against settler riots in the West Bank town of Huwara a day earlier — blocked an exit from a major highway in Tel Aviv, ending with three arrests.

A spokesman for the Standing Together social justice group said that more than 1,000 protesters turned out Monday night in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, and Beersheba, for an “emergency protest” against the “settler government lighting the country on fire.”

The protest came less than 24 hours after hundreds of extremist settlers entered the Palestinian town of Huwara to carry out a revenge attack for a terror shooting there earlier in the day that killed two Israeli brothers from the Har Bracha settlement: Hallel and Yagel Yaniv. The mob rampaged through the town for hours, setting fire to homes, storefronts, and cars.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said one man was shot dead by Israeli fire during the riots in the town of Za’tara, south of Huwara and close to the settlement of Kfar Tapuah. A military source said Israeli troops were not involved in the shooting that killed 37-year-old Sameh Aqtash. There was no immediate comment from Border Police officials on the incident, and it remained unclear whether he had been shot by the settlers.

Protesters on Monday in Tel Aviv and elsewhere waved Palestinian flags and sported placards with anti-occupation messages, including “the settler government is bad for all of us” and “there is no democracy without freedom,” as well as messages of solidarity with Huwara.

Police clashed with the protesters in Tel Aviv as they attempted to clear the blocked highway exit ramp. Video from the scene showed police officers forcibly carrying off some protesters, while others yelled “shame!” Police directed drivers to alternate routes as they were forced to block off several major streets due to the protest.

The Tel Aviv protest began in Habima Square before the activists marched along Kaplan Street and blocked an exit ramp from the Ayalon Highway.

Police said they arrested a 19-year-old resident of Yehud for spraying pepper spray toward the protesters in Habima Square. Two protesters were also arrested for disturbing public order, police said.

Ahead of the protest, Standing Together called for activists to show up “and scream against settlements, against terror, and against the occupation.”

“We all came with a clear message: A nation that occupies another nation will never be free, we will fight against settler terror and the occupation, Arabs and Jews, Palestinians and Israelis, and we will win,” said Standing Together in a statement.

On Saturday evening, hundreds of thousands of Israelis turned out at protests around the country to rally against the government’s plans to radically curb the judiciary.

At the largest such protest in Tel Aviv, hundreds blocked the Ayalon Highway in both directions for several hours, setting tires on fire and spraying graffiti on the road. While 21 protesters were arrested, all of them were released the next day.

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