Some 3,000 Jewish and Arab left-wing activists rallied in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in east Jerusalem Saturday in order to protest against the settlement of Jews in the area and the evacuation of Arab families from their homes.
The protestors gathered in a soccer field in the neighborhood and waved Israeli and Palestinian flags before marching towards the Tomb of Simon the Just.
"I'm glad to see there are still leftists in the country," left-wing activist Yoram Sorek told Ynet. He noted that "any political agreement will require Jerusalem's division and these settlements are aimed at preventing peace."
The religious site also attracted dozens of ultra-Orthodox worshippers and right-wing activists who came in order to pray and protest the High Court of Justice's ruling enabling the leftist demonstration. Police forces were deployed at the site.
The rightists chanted "Halacha state" and waved signs reading, "Leftists = Traitors".
Leading the right-wing protest National Union chairman MK Yaakov Katz said, "We are very glad the marchers are shouting and coming. Any esoteric protest of Israel-hating Arabs and 'Peace Now' against Jewish heritage plays to our advantage."
Katz added that "10 years ago they protest in Har Homa, now there are 20,000 people there. They demonstrated in Kedumin and Beit-El and there also are thousands of people."
A haredi demonstrator said, "These are a bunch of pathetic Jews who come to defend Arabs who throw people out. They don’t study the Torah, they have no clue, they are the greatest villains."
Knesset Member Arieh Eldad (National Union) who arrived at the scene said, "The audacity of Israeli leftist groups has led them to betrayal in cooperation with Israel's enemies.
"This time they are disregarding the fact that any Jewish settler in the neighborhood is doing so backed by a court order."
The protest was made possible after the High Court granted the
motion of Sheikh Jarrah residents who petitioned against the police's decision to ban the demonstration.
According to the court ruling, the protest was to be held in a restricted area, while 300 activists were to be allowed to rally in the street for half an hour.