Israeli police arrest 15 over campaign to stop Jew-Arab dating

In this file photo, an Israeli policeman uses pepper spray against a Palestinian medic during clashes outside Ramallah, West Bank. Israeli police have arrested 15 suspected Jewish extremists over campaign to stop Jew-Arab dating. (AP)
Updated 22 October 2017
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Israeli police arrest 15 over campaign to stop Jew-Arab dating

JERUSALEM: Israeli police have arrested 15 suspected Jewish extremists following an undercover investigation into a group accused of tracking down and threatening Arab men dating Jewish women, authorities said Sunday.
Israeli radio said that among those taken in for questioning was Benzi Gopstein, a prominent leader of the extreme-right group Lehava, but police would not confirm or deny the reports.
Arrests and searches for evidence were carried out simultaneously at addresses in Jerusalem, northern and southern Israel and in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, police said.
“Fifteen suspects known to the police as active in the Lehava organization were arrested or detained for questioning during the night as part of a police investigation on suspicion that they acted to locate and threaten (Arab) minority members with connections to Jewish young women or girls,” a police statement said.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP that the suspects were being interrogated and it was not yet clear whether any would be charged.
Lehava opposes inter-marriage. In August 2014, its activists staged a rally where racist slogans, including “Death to Arabs!,” were shouted at the wedding near Tel Aviv of a Muslim man and Jewish woman.
Arabs account for some 17.5 percent of Israel’s 8 million population, and are descendants of Palestinians who remained on their land following the creation of Israel in 1948.
In April, six Israelis, including two soldiers, were arrested for racist attacks against Arabs with knives and other weapons and charged with “terrorist” offenses.
Police said they were influenced by a Lehava video.
Gopstein was also questioned by police in 2015 after he condoned torching churches in Israel.
The police statement said that the latest arrests were the result of an undercover investigation.
“It uncovered organized and pre-meditated activity believed to have been carried out by the suspects, known members of Lehava,” it said.


Tunisia’s president says PM should quit if crisis continues

Updated 17 min 4 sec ago
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Tunisia’s president says PM should quit if crisis continues

  • Tunisia has been hailed as the Arab Spring’s only democratic success because protests toppled autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011
  • Turmoil and militant attacks have deterred investors and tourists, eroding living standards of ordinary people

TUNIS: Tunisia’s president called on Sunday for Prime Minister Youssef Chahed to step down or seek a confidence quote if the country’s political and economic crisis continues, withdrawing his support for the premier, who has clashed with the president’s son.
President Beji Caid Essebsi’s son, Hafedh Caid Essebsi, who is leader of the ruling Nidaa Tounes party, called last May for Chahed’s dismissal because of his government’s failure to revive the economy. His call was supported by the powerful UGTT union, which rejected economic reforms proposed by the prime minister.
“There is a difference between the parties and national organizations about the government, between government and key players like UGTT and some parties,” Essebsi said in an interview broadcast by local Nesma TV.
“If this situation continues, the prime minister must resign or go to the parliament to ask for confidence,” he said.
Chahed, who was appointed by Essebsi in 2016, has accused the president’s son of destroying the Nidaa Tounes party, and said the crisis in the party has affected state institutions.
The moderate Islamist party Ennahda has said the exit of the prime minister would hit stability at a time when the country needed economic reforms.
Tunisia has been hailed as the Arab Spring’s only democratic success because protests toppled autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011 without triggering violent upheaval, as happened in Syria and Libya.
But since then nine cabinets have failed to resolve economic problems including high inflation and unemployment, and impatience is rising among lenders such as the International Monetary Fund, which have kept the country afloat.
Seven prime ministers have failed to fix a sluggish economy. Turmoil and militant attacks have deterred investors and tourists, eroding living standards of ordinary people and causing an increase in unemployment.
Annual inflation hit a record high of 7.8 percent in June as the dinar currency tanked, making food imports more expensive.