Israel: Members of far-right party seek to form armed militia in Tel Aviv district

Earlier this month, Israeli mobs in Bat Yam attacked Palestinian citizens in two separate incidents and injured three people during Yom Kippur (Twitter)

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  October 27, 2022

Head of initiative set up by members of Otzma Yehudit says people in Bat Yam felt threatened by ‘illegal aliens’, referring to Palestinians.

Members of Israel’s far-right Otzma Yehudit party are seeking to form an armed civilian militia in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam, according to a report in Haaretz.

Moran Nunu, the head of the initiative, told the Israeli newspaper that people in Bat Yam, which is an almost entirely Jewish city, felt threatened by what she described as “illegal aliens”.

Haaretz said activists had posted on Facebook claiming that Bat Yam “has recently been full of workers from the [Palestinian] community” and “is like a ticking bomb”.

Nunu said that while those involved in setting up the militia were members of Otzma Yehudit, the party has no official connection to the initiative.

Otzma Yehudit, which is led by the controversial Knesset member Itamar Ben-Gvir, declined to comment to Haaretz on the matter. 

Nunu said the spark for creating the militia was “the rape of the woman” on Bat Yam’s beach, adding that the initiative was intended to “return the sense of safety to residents”.

“The soldiers will be armed, will do patrols and help with what they can,” she said.

A Palestinian man from Al-Khalil (Hebron) was charged several months ago for the alleged rape of a Bat Yam resident on the city’s beach.

The Bat Yam municipality and the police told Haaretz they have not supported or participated in the initiative and do not believe that the militia will be successfully established.

Those behind the militia are coordinating with the founders of a similar initiative started in the Naqab (Negev) in March, called Sayeret Barel (Barel Commandos).

Sayeret Barel’s website says that membership is open to Jews and Palestinians alike, however the membership form asks for information regarding service in the Israeli army, including which level of weapons training the volunteer has completed in their military service.

Mob attacks

Over the past 18 months Bat Yam has witnessed several violent attacks on Palestinian citizens by members of far-right Israeli groups.

In May last year, a mob of Israelis pulled Said Moussa out of his car and severely beat him.

Prior to the beating, dozens of Israelis marched through the city, attacking a number of Palestinian-owned businesses, smashing windows, throwing objects and chanting racist slogans.

Earlier this month, Israeli mobs in Bat Yam attacked Palestinian citizens in two separate incidents and injured three people during Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year. 

In the first incident, five Palestinians from the Naqab region in the south of the country were attacked in their car by a crowd who objected to them being outdoors during the religious holiday.

Three people were wounded in the attack, including one who suffered from a stabbing wound.

In a separate incident, a crowd of Jewish worshippers overturned a car after noticing the passengers were Palestinian citizens of Israel.