One young couple in Israel got more than they bargained for on their wedding day this week when their celebration became a platform for protest against intermarriage of Israel's Jewish and Arab populations.

Tensions between Jewish and Arab citizens have been on the rise since the Gaza war broke out, after the bodies of three Israeli teens were found in early July which prompted the revenge murder of a Palestinian teenager in east Jerusalem.

Rather than getting prepared on the morning of their wedding, Meral Malka, 23, and Mahmoud Mansour, 26, from Jaffa near Tel Aviv, had to front up in court to try and stop right-wing religious group Lehava from protesting outside their wedding.

The group posted the couple's wedding invitation online and called for people to turn up outside the wedding venue, Red Sun in Rishon Letzion, and make noise. The group objects to assimilation between Jews and Arabs in Israel and had objected to Malka having converted to Islam in order to marry Mansour.


Lehava had previously targeted Jewish-Arab couples and says it objects to intermarriage for religious reasons, but had not targeted a wedding venue before.

The court in Rishon Letzion ruled the protest could go ahead outside the wedding venue within 200m and ordered that Mansour should hire security guards to protect the couple and their guests.

Mansour told reporters it was outrageous protesters were being allowed to target his wedding.

"We've been together for five years, but we've never encountered such racism.

"I always knew there were racists, but as long as you're not affected by it, until you feel it in your own body, you don't know what it is," he said to media.

At the protest, 400 members of Lehava and other right-wing protest groups, made up mainly of Jewish men, wore black T-shirts with a yellow star of David. They aimed their protest at the bride, Malka. She was labelled by the protesters a "traitor to the Jewish state".

As guests entered the wedding the men chanted "death to Arabs".

Lehava uses the slogan "saving the daughters of Israel". A 2011 investigation by the Haaretz newspaper found the organisation received up to $175,000 a year from the Government.

A spokesman for Lehava, Michael Ben-Ari, said Jews intermarrying with non-Jews was "worse than what Hitler did", referring to the murder of six million Jews in Europe in World War II.

Right-wing protester Zion Malka said: "Women get messed up in Islam and can't get out, they need to be rescued and that's a cost to us - it shouldn't be allowed, it's a disgrace to Judaism."

Eighty left-wing Israelis held a counter-protest in support of the couple holding balloons, flowers and various signs with slogans such as "Love conquers all".

Left-wing couple Maytal and Jonathan Sella had been married themselves for only 10 months and were outraged by the idea protesters would demonstrate against it.

"We don't want the bride and the groom to feel any interruption to their wedding," said Maytal Sella.

"We came spontaneously because it really upset us on a personal level and as Israelis that a group of people have taken this private event as a public event, and that they let themselves come and try to destroy the event," said Merav Ronen, 30, who was there with her mother, Mika.

Four right-wing protesters were arrested but Mansour said: "It did not deter the wedding, we were able to dance and celebrate and have the best day of our lives."

Arab citizens make up about 20 per cent of Israel's population - the majority of Arabs are Muslim.