Protest In Tel Aviv Against Ben Gvir’s National Guard

Ayman Odeh slams force to be led by far-right minister as ‘fascist militia’ amid fears move could politicize law enforcement.

Hundreds of left-wing activists gathered Wednesday night in Tel Aviv to protest plans to create a new National Guard that would come under far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir.

The protests came as Ben Gvir unveiled plans to train the 2,000-agent force and amid ongoing protests against the government’s overhaul of the judiciary, which has been on hold since Sunday.

A number of streets in Tel Aviv were temporarily closed due to the protest, which took place under the banner “No to Ben Gvir’s militia”.

Social Justice Group

Social justice group Standing Together, which led the protest along with other organizations, said similar rallies also took place in Jerusalem, Haifa, Beersheba, Rehovot and Holon.

Footage from the Tel Aviv protest shows numerous Palestinian and Pride flags dotted among the Israeli flags that dominated the event. Protesters also carried placards with slogans such as “there is no democracy under occupation” and posters denouncing Ben Gvir.

Addressing protesters, the leader of the predominantly Arab political faction Hadash-Taal compared the National Guard to the “brownshirts” of the Nazi paramilitary army.

“Or the yellow shirts,” said MK Ayman Odeh, referring to the color of the logo of several Israeli nationalist groups, including the Jewish supremacist movement Kach, in which Ben Gvir was active as a teenager.

Kach was founded by the late hardline rabbi Meir Kahane, whose disciples Ben Gvir and other members of his Otzma Yehudit party consider themselves to be. Ben Gvir has recently sought to distance himself from some of Kahane’s more extreme positions, but spoke at a memorial event held in his honor in November.

“We will not allow you to form fascist militias in the service of Kahanism,” Odeh said at the protest.

Ben Gvir on Wednesday revealed details of his proposal for the National Guard, which will be submitted for government approval at Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting.

According to the text of a resolution that will be considered by the cabinet, the National Guard will be responsible for combating “nationalist crime”, terrorism and “restoring governance where necessary”.

Civil rights groups as well as opposition politicians have expressed extreme concern over the proposal to place such a force under the direct control of a government minister, arguing that it could politicize the maintenance of power. order and undermine the principle of equality in the application of the law.

If the resolution is approved, Ben Gvir will create a commission made up of representatives from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Finance, the Israel Police and the IDF to implement the creation. of the force.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave the green light to Ben Gvir’s proposal for the National Guard on Monday evening. The move was widely seen as a trade-off for Ben Gvir, who backed down from his threat to leave the coalition after Netanyahu announced a pause on controversial justice system reform legislation.

Legislative pressure sparked massive nationwide protests that escalated for more than two months until Netanyahu decided to delay reform for negotiations, though protest leaders believe the government still intends to implement its comprehensive legislative plan to weaken the judiciary.

Ben Gvir strongly criticized the way police handled the protests and called on officers to use tougher measures against protesters. He has also sought greater direct control of law enforcement since becoming national security minister.

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