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Thousands of right-wing activists rally in Jerusalem to ‘overthrow evil government’

Fearing more demolitions at illegal West Bank outpost, demonstrators and opposition MKs protest government policies outside PM’s office

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Right-wing activists protest the demolition of structures at the illegal West Bank outpost of Homesh, outside the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, on January 13, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Right-wing activists protest the demolition of structures at the illegal West Bank outpost of Homesh, outside the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, on January 13, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Thousands of people turned out Thursday night for a right-wing demonstration against the government outside Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office in Jerusalem.

Religious Zionism MKs Bezalel Smotrich, Itamar Ben Gvir and Simcha Rothman, as well as Likud MK Shlomo Karhi, were among several opposition lawmakers and officials who spoke at the protest, organized by Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan.

The demonstration was originally aimed at protesting the government’s attitude toward illegal outposts, claiming it was delegitimizing the settler movement.

But many participants held signs and chanted against the government as a whole, and specifically against any compromise with Bedouin demonstrators in southern Israel, following clashes over a controversial tree planting initiative in the area.

Some signs read: “We want a Jewish state” and “Bennett resign.”

Police estimated that thousands showed up to the protest, but did not immediately give a more specific number.

Right-wing activists protest the demolition of structures at the illegal West Bank outpost of Homesh, outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, on January 13, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

“A government that rewards terrorism is a dangerous government for the country. Bennett and his friends abandoned the State of Israel, only yesterday they decided to eliminate planting in the Negev following the Bedouin violence, and are now eliminating the Homesh yeshiva in response to the horrific murder,” Smotrich said, according to the Israel Hayom daily.

Smotrich was referring to structures erected illegally at the wildcat outpost of Homesh in the West Bank, near where an Israeli man, Yehuda Dimentman, was shot dead in a terror attack in December.

After several of those structures — erected on private Palestinian land — were razed a week after the attack, right-wing activists and settler groups fear more demolitions are to come.

At the time, and during Thursday’s protest, settler leaders blasted the demolitions, calling them a “prize for terror,” and arguing that the response to the shooting should be to legalize the outpost at Homesh, which was a fully fledged settlement before it was evacuated in 2005 as part of the Gaza Disengagement.

“Together we will return the flag of Zionism to the forefront. Together, we will overthrow the evil government and form a nationalist, Zionist, Jewish government. Together we will win,” Smotrich said.

Jewish settlers throw stones towards Palestinian homes, just after the funeral of Yehuda Dimentman, 25, who was killed in a shooting attack by a Palestinian gunman, in the West Bank village of Burqa, on Friday, December 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

“It is a disgrace that on the same day that the government approves the electricity law in the Negev, it disconnects homes from electricity in Judea and Samaria,” Dagan said, using the biblical name of the West Bank.

He was referring to a bill that would allow thousands of illegally built homes, mostly in Arab communities, to connect to the power grid.

Dimentman’s father, Mordecai, also participated in the protest. “I call on all the youth to dedicate themselves to the values ​​that are sacred to us, and with the help of God, we will settle Homesh and all of Judea and Samaria,” he said.

Terrorists opened fire at the car Dimentman was traveling in with two other men, killing him and lightly wounding the others as they left the Homesh outpost on December 16 of last year. A military official said their car was ambushed from the side of the road.

Dimentman was a student at a yeshiva near where the attack took place.

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