Il: Antifascist Demonstration in Tel Aviv.


Israelis protest to 'defend' democracy


 TEL AVIV, Israel (AFP) -- More than 10,000 Israelis demonstrated on Saturday for "the defense of democracy" after parliament decided to probe the funding of left-wing NGOs and rights groups, an AFP correspondent said.


 "This is one of the most important demonstrations in years. It is important for our message to be heard by the government," one of the organisers, Yariv Oppenheimer, told AFP.


 Organizers said up to 15,000 demonstrators, most of them Jews but including Palestinian citizens, gathered in downtown Tel Aviv and then marched to the museum where they held a rally.


 The demonstration was organized following calls by several groups and leftist parties for "the defense of democracy while it is still possible."


 Protesters held Israeli and Palestinian flags and banners with messages that read: "Let's protect democracy so that it can protect us"; "Democracy cannot be built on racist laws" and "Mad right: a danger for Israel."


 On Jan. 5, MPs voted to form a parliamentary inquiry to investigate the funding of rights groups allegedly helping to build war crimes cases abroad against Israeli military personnel.


 The parliamentary probe focuses on Breaking the Silence, a group of army veterans who bear witness to abuses they have seen or taken part in during their military service in the occupied Palestinian territories.