Around 300 Jewish and Arab left-wing activists gathered in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem Friday to protest against Jewish residents who moved into homes there previously occupied by Arabs.
The activists were also protesting the arrest of their fellow leftists at previous rallies. Police detained four activists at Friday's rally for violating a court order prohibiting demonstrations in the area.
Demonstrators carried signs saying, "Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies" and "Down with the settlements in east Jerusalem". Some were dressed as Santa Claus in honor of Christmas.
Organizers of the protest claim police burst through lines of demonstrators and used excess force to arrest some of them unlawfully.
"There are currently eight detainees being held at the Shalem Police Station who were arrested illegally and in gross violation of a court order," they said in a statement.
Nadia Hanoun, who was evicted from her home in Sheikh Jarrah, told Ynet that "three families, which amount to 17 people, were evicted and in their place settlers moved in".
She said her family was currently living outside. "Everyone knows Jerusalem is only for Jews and not for Arabs. We don't have equal rights here. I don't understand why they want to destroy our homes and our dreams in order to build a settlement. Why does it have to be here in our neighborhood?" she said.
Jerusalem's deputy mayor, Pepe Allalo (Meretz), also participated in the rally. "The Jewish settlement here was intended to harm any chance for peace or an accord," he told Ynet.
"The issue here is not legal – who does or doesn't own the property. This is an Arab neighborhood in
everyone's opinion and only Palestinians should live here. The residence of Jews here is a provocation and harmful to the calm in the city."
Allalo said he had warned police not to adopt a discriminatory arrest policy. "The haredim go wild and do whatever they want and they do not receive this treatment. The police here are pretty violent despite the fact that the protestors are trying to maintain calm and the right to demonstrate."