Israelis rally after hate crimes by Jews

TEL AVIV (AFP) - Thousands of Israelis rallied Saturday night in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem against "incitement and violence," following attacks by Jewish extremists targeting Palestinians and homosexuals.

An ultra-Orthodox Jew on Thursday stabbed six participants of a Gay Pride march in Jerusalem, leaving one of the victims in critical condition.

Just hours later, suspected Jewish extremists torched a Palestinian home in the West Bank, killing a toddler and critically wounding his parents and brother.

Correspondents said around 2,000 people, including an uncle of the dead Palestinian toddler, participated in the Tel Aviv rally organised by the Peace Now settlement watchdog.

"We call on the government to take strong action against the violence of the settlers and to restart immediately the peace process," Peace Now director Yariv Oppenheimer told AFP.

The demonstrators then marched to a nearby location to join a vigil organised by Israel's gay community.

In Jerusalem, hundreds of people gathered near the site of the Gay Pride march stabbings.

"Flames of hatred have spread through our country, flames of violence, of hatred, of false and distorted beliefs," President Reuven Rivlin said in a speech to the crowd.

Smaller anti-intolerance rallies were held in other Israeli cities on Saturday night.