Israeli police fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse Arab protesters at an Israeli-Arab city today in an effort to prevent a clash with ultranationalist Jews planning to march there.
About 30 Jewish demonstrators travelled from Jerusalem to Umm el-Fahm in northern Israel, the seat of an Islamic movement whose leader, Sheikh Raed Salah, has alleged that Israel endangers Jerusalem's Muslim holy sites.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said officers were sent to Umm al-Fahm to try to prevent clashes between the two sides after an Israeli court allowed the right-wing activists to march in the city.
Riot police, some on horesback, charged about 200 Arab demonstrators who threw stones at them before retreating.
The Jewish protesters want Israeli authorities to outlaw Salah's movement. One of their leaders said that as Umm el-Fahm was a part of the Jewish state they had the right to march there unhindered.
"We're coming to protest in the city of Umm el-Fahm, that's in the heart of Israel," organiser Baruch Marzel told supporters before the march.
"We have there a cancer of the Islamic Movement that wants to destroy the state of Israel...from the inside and we want to protest that the government will outlaw the Islamic Movement."
When Marzel and his group held a similar march in the city in March 2009 clashes erupted and dozens were wounded.
Salah, an Umm el-Fahm resident, was jailed by an Israeli court for disorderly conduct and assault after scuffles with police who confronted protesters during engineering work near at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque, Islam's third holiest site in 2007.