Israel judicial crisis: Far-right mob attack ‘leftist’ drivers

Pro-government crowds in Israel blocked the entrances to two small towns in the north of the country, demanding the vocal support of drivers for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if they wanted to pass.

Late on Monday evening, dozens of far-right activists blocked a crossroads leading to the towns of Kibbutz Ein Harod and Tel Yosef in northern Israel.

Haaretz reported that the activists burned tires at the entrances of the towns, threw eggs and stones at passing cars, shook them, threw down passengers and cursed them.

Kibbutz residents are seen as politically left-wing, and far-right activists believe they oppose Netanyahu’s controversial plan to reform the judiciary.

The pro-government activists live-streamed their harassment and intimidation of drivers returning to their communities on TikTok.

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However, they allowed drivers in the city of Beit She’an, a stronghold of Netanyahu’s Likud party and religious residents, to pass through the roadblocks, amid cheers.

The far-right activists mocked the arrested drivers from Kibbutz communities as “leftists” and called some of them “homo” – a homophobic slogan – and mocked them as they surrounded their vehicles.

‘Ben-Gvir, the gentlest’

One of the activists told a driver that they were blocking the road in response to anti-Netanyahu protesters blocking the Ayalon Highway, an intracity highway in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.

“Just like you all blocked the Ayalon, that’s what you’ll be feeling now. Get it?” said the activist.

Another claimed the driver’s voice of his support for the far-right Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir and Netanyahu, using the prime minister’s nickname, “Bibi”.

‘They started gathering around the car, knocking on the windows, some with rocks in their hands’

Anonymous car driver

“There’s nothing you can do, leftists can’t go up. Say Bibi is the man, you’re crazy about Bibi and Ben-Gvir, and you’ll be allowed to go home,” the activist told an elderly driver .

“Say Bibi is the prime minister and I support the reforms and Ben-Gvir is the minister of national security, the worst person the country has ever had.”

Haaretz identified one of the activists as Itzik Zarka of the Likud party, who has ties to the Netanyahu family.

‘Enemies trying to kill him’

Another driver was stopped on his way home from a basketball game with his seven-year-old son, who was afraid of the crowd.

“They were burning a tire in the middle of the road, throwing big rocks on the road, and they started gathering around the car, knocking on the windows, some of them with rocks in their hands,” the man told Haaretz.

He also said that his son “got hysterical and started crying and asking him what they want from us, what we had done, that we are good people”.

The father and son finally left the car and called the police, but they said the police who arrived at the scene were still idle and did not take any action.

“I tried to talk to them, and nothing. They [protesters] insulted me for being a leftist kibbutznik and said they would only let me pass if I said I support Bibi,” he said.

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He was hit with fists and elbows as he made his way out of the crowd. He found a policeman there who returned with him and asked the crowd to clear the rocks and open the road.

“I’m more worried about my son. He says he doesn’t want to live here; he feels he lives with enemies around who want to kill him,” he said.

Israeli police said in a statement that three people were arrested over the incident.

“The police will continue to allow freedom of speech and protest in accordance with the law, and will maintain public order,” the police said in a statement.

The blockade of two Israeli communities by right-wing crowds was part of a series of events that began on Monday evening, when pro-government activists called for mass protests in Jerusalem.

Right-wing people attacked two Palestinians, a passer-by and a taxi driver in Jerusalem, who drove away from the scene.

Yossi Eli, an Israeli reporter for Channel 13, was attacked by far-right activists and left with a broken rib and damage to his spleen. Head injury involving Avi Cashman, cameraman.

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