While more than 70 rockets fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza hit southern Israel on Wednesday, in the West Bank (known also as Judea and Samaria), Palestinian activists and their foreign supporters stormed an Israeli-owned supermarket that prides itself in providing jobs and affordable groceries to both Jews and Arabs.
Israeli and Palestinian media report that some 100 Palestinians, along with international activists from the International Solidarity Movement, staged the protest at the Rami Levy supermarket in Sha’ar Binyamin, near Ramallah. Some entered the store where they walked up and down the aisles, waved Palestinian flags, chanted slogans and called for a boycott of settlement goods, while others blocked the entrance. Israeli border police dispersed the crowd outside using stun grenades.
Arutz Sheva reports customers and workers took refuge in the store as they feared the protesters would become violent.
Abir Kopty, a political and feminist activist with the Palestinian popular committees tells Ynet that this protest is part of a series being planned. The first one occurred last week when Palestinians blocked Israeli highway 443 during rush hour. She said:
This time we chose the Rami Levy store because we want to send a message to boycott the occupation and its products. As long as the Palestinians get no justice, settlers and Israelis will not lead normal lives.
Kopty added that protesters also want to send a message to Palestinians that they should not shop at Rami Levy.
The pro-settlement Regavim organization said:
This is a provocation by Palestinians and anarchists who are trying to fan the flames in Judea and Samaria.
The protest in Rami Lavy, which employs and serves both Jews and Arabs, exposed the simple truth – that they are acting against co-existence. We ask that they take a look at what is going on in neighboring Syria which they hold so dear to their hearts.
The Palestinian Popular Struggle Coordination Committee reports that after clashing with police and soldiers (video seen below), several protesters were injured including two who were taken to hospital. They also report that two Palestinians, an American and a Polish activist were arrested.
Owner Rami Levy told Arutz Sheva that the Palestinians intended to cause a provocation with photographers present. He told the news outlet that his staff cannot stop customers from entering after they pass the security guard who like at all other Israeli supermarkets is situated at the entrance and checks for weapons and explosives.
In August 2011 at his Restoring Courage event in Jerusalem, Glenn Beck honored Rami Levy for promoting peaceful coexistence between Arabs and Jews. Levy grew up in a one-room shack in Jerusalem and, after years of hard work, expanded from his first 400-square foot stall into Israel’s fastest growing supermarket chain employing more than 3,000 at some 20 locations.
Besides providing job opportunities, Levy offers discounted and sometimes free food to the needy of all faiths. In the past, he has provided unmarked bags to his Muslim shoppers so they can avoid being harassed for visiting a Jewish-owned store.
Beck said then, “Despite strong opposition and even boycotts, Rami remains on the path of good. It takes courage to do what’s right.”
Watch video of the protesters outside the supermarket, as police use stun grenades to disperse. Video was provided by Regavim to Arutz Sheva: