Over half-a-million Jews visited the grave of the Talmudic-era sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in Meron on Wednesday night for Lag B'Omer, but it appears the event was partially marred by non-Jewish ushers harassing Jewish women praying at the site.
The Lehava anti-assimilation organization set up a donations stand selling goods at the ascent to the tomb – members of the group told Arutz Sheva that during the event several troubling incidents of harassment occurred.
"It happens every year, and this year we even managed to take action during the festivities to prevent such incidents," one Lehava activist revealed.
"We got a report about non-Jewish ushers who were stationed at one of the parking lots harassing women at prayer," he said. "We sent activists of the organization there, and thank G-d we succeeded in preventing the shameful incident."
Lehava has recently been in the news, after leftist media sources claimed last Sunday night that the group stirred up violence against the police during the protest of Ethiopian Jews at Tel Aviv's Rabin Square.
Bentzi Gopshtain, the director of the organization, told Arutz Sheva that the claims are outright lies, and said he intends to sue the major TV channels that accused him and his activists of being behind the violence.
"Suddenly I heard that they're accusing us as if we were the people who threw the first rock," said Gopshtain.
The director of the organization noted that he and activists of the group had taken part in the earlier protest the Thursday before in central Jerusalem, but were not even present at the violent protest in Tel Aviv.
"We arrived at the protest on Thursday in Jerusalem with our activists as a sign of identifying with members of the Ethiopian Jewish community, against police violence towards the Ethiopians, haredim, 'settlers,'" he said. "However, it seems to me the protest in Tel Aviv was already too much and the matter had been raised, and therefore we weren't there, not me and not the activists."
While Lehava was not involved in the violent protest, in which roughly 68 people were wounded, over 50 of them police officers, Ethiopian Jews who took part as well as police officials said groups not associated with the community had stirred up the violence.
Organizations affiliated with the radical leftist New Israel Fund (NIF) were specifically named by the police, although NIF later said that it had no "formal involvement" in the protests.