Israeli police try to contain violence in east Jerusalem

The unrest between Jewish activists and Palestinian residents took place in Sheikh Jarrah

A Palestinian man confronts Israeli security forces in the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah. — AFP
A Palestinian man confronts Israeli security forces in the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah. — AFP


Published: Mon 14 Feb 2022, 2:14 AM

Israeli police fanned out in a tense east Jerusalem neighbourhood late on Sunday trying to contain violence between ultranationalist Jewish activists and Palestinian residents.

The unrest took place in Sheikh Jarrah, a flashpoint neighbourhood where clashes last year helped spark an 11-day war between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

Dozens of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah and other east Jerusalem neighbourhoods are at risk of eviction by Jewish settler organisations, and tensions between the sides often spill over into violence.

The latest unrest erupted after a settler’s home was torched over the weekend. Itamar Ben-Gvir, an ultranationalist lawmaker, responded to the fire by setting up a makeshift office early on Sunday near the home of a family facing possible eviction. Palestinians moved in on Ben-Gvir’s tent, throwing plastic chairs in the afternoon and scuffling with his supporters.

Late Sunday, riot police sprayed putrid-smelling water to break up Palestinian protests. One video on social media showed an Israeli policeman kicking a young Palestinian man. Police reported at least 12 arrests.

The Palestinian Red Crescent medical service said 14 Palestinians were wounded, including four people shot with rubber bullets. Explosions from stun grenades used by police to disperse crowds could be heard during the evening.

Ben-Gvir, a follower of a radical rabbi who called for the expulsion of Arabs from Israel, accused police of using “extreme brutality” against his followers. He said he would spend the night in the area “so they will learn”.

In addition to the threatened evictions, thousands of Palestinians live in homes in east Jerusalem that face the threat of demolition because of discriminatory policies that make it extremely difficult for Palestinians to build new homes or expand existing ones. Threatened evictions, tied up in decades-old battles between Palestinian residents and Jewish settlers, set off protests and clashes last May that helped ignite the Gaza war.

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