A Silwan resident was arrested and two police officers lightly injured on Sunday afternoon in clashes that erupted in the east Jerusalem neighborhood following a short right-wing protest on its main thoroughfare.
Right-wing activists Baruch Marzel, Itamar Ben-Gvir and about 30 others had marched down the road in a preorganized protest, expressing their support of demolitions of Arab homes in the disputed neighborhood. The activists marched for less than a kilometer down the heavily guarded road, drawing shouts from local Arab residents but no violence.
When the activists concluded their march, violence erupted, as it had earlier in the day. Masked locals hurled rocks at cars and security forces, injuring two police officers. One policewoman was hit in the shoulder and evacuated to Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center, while the policeman was treated at the scene. One Arab resident of the neighborhood was arrested on suspicion of perpetrating the attack.
Left-wing activists gathered en masse at the neighborhood’s protest tent and attempted to organize an impromptu march to counter that of the right-wing activists, but were stopped and dispersed by police. By Sunday afternoon, only a few dozen protesters remained.
Locals and left-wingers prepare to oppose “Kahanist bully” march
Prior to the march, dozens of masked Arabs had hurled rocks at cars in the east Jerusalem neighborhood as police gathered there in growing numbers ahead of the march scheduled to take place there later in the day. Police also reported that Molotov cocktails had been hurled at the protest tent in the neighborhood, dedicated to solidarity with the local residents.
A large police force was deployed to the area to prepare for any instances of violence or rioting during the controversial demonstration.
As police and the press strove to defend themselves from the rocks and restore quiet, dozens of left-wing activists and residents of the neighborhood conducted a peaceful protest against the right-wing march which had yet to begin.
“We hope the Kahanist march in Silwan will raise awareness to the distress of Palestinian residents of the neighborhood, who are subjected to incessant violence at the hands of the settlers in the neighborhood and abused by the authorities,” the demonstrators said. They added that they were protesting “in order to stand with the residents throughout the provocation and ensure that police are defending the Palestinian residents from the Kahanist bullies.”
After the right-wing activists demonstrated, the left attempted to conduct their own march towards the Givati parking lot in the City of David, but were stopped by the police and brought to the Shiloah pool. The protesters then threw a burning tire at police.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu petitioned to the Interior Ministry to postpone the march, which coincides with US Middle East envoy George Mitchell’s three-day visit to the region in hopes of starting US-mediated “proximity talks” between Israel and the Palestinians.
However, Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch turned Netanyahu’s request down on grounds that the High Court for Justice would not have granted it.
The activists, whose planned demonstration has already been postponed several times since March, were asked to refrain from carrying weapons even if they possess the appropriate licenses.