Jewish counterprotesters injured at violent Nakba Day demonstration

Police arrested three people,  saying that while the right to protest will be upheld, disturbances of public order and violence are not allowed.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Several Arab students were arrested Sunday at Tel Aviv University (TAU) during a Nakba Day protest that turned violent when they clashed with Jewish students and activists staging a counter-demonstration.

Although at first separated by several meters and temporary metal fencing, Arab demonstrators began beating Jews and then police who arrived on the scene. Several victims sustained head injuries that had to be treated by paramedics on site.

Police arrested three people, saying that while the right to protest will be upheld, disturbances of public order and violence are not allowed.

They also moved the pro-Israel demonstrators further away.

Nakba Day is observed annually by anti-Israel activists on May 15 to commemorate the “Nakba,” or “Catastrophe,” of Israel’s establishment on May 15, 1948. Israel celebrates its birthday on the Hebrew date of its declaration of independence, which fell last week.

The anti-Zionist group consisted of a few hundred Arab and far-left students wearing black shirts, some with keffiyehs over their shoulders, and waving flags of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Some held pictures of keys, symbolizing the “lost homes” of the Arabs who fled during the War of Independence.

They said that they were demonstrating in “Sheikh Munis,” which was a small Arab village in the Jaffa subdistrict of Mandatory Palestine that was abandoned by its residents before the War of Independence. Tel Aviv University was built partly on the village land.

The counter-demonstrators waved Israeli flags, chanted pro-Israel slogans and distributed t-shirts displaying a key with a Star of David alongside the popular Biblical prophecy: “And the children [of Israel] shall return to their borders.”

Activists of Im Tirtzu, an organization especially active on college campuses that works to strengthen Zionist values, also put up two giant banners reading “Nakba Nonsense.”

The point, they explained, was to counter the “obscene historical distortion that seeks to rewrite history by making the victims – the Jews – into the aggressors.”

“We cannot afford the luxury of allowing this anti-Israel propaganda to go unchallenged,” said CEO Matan Peleg.

The police were out in force Sunday in several places where they expected possible violence during similar demonstrations, including Nazareth, Palestinian cities in Judea and Samaria, and especially in Jerusalem.

Hamas called Sunday morning for its followers to reach the al-Aqsa compound on the Temple Mount and to “continue on the path of resistance until the liberation of our people and the end of the occupation.”

The Palestinian riots on the Temple Mount during the recently concluded month of Ramadan are still fresh in the minds of the Israeli security forces, and the police declared that “We are keeping an eye on every incident if and when it occurs.”