The police arrested 21 protestors, most of them Jewish left-wing activists, during a violent demonstration in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah on Friday afternoon. Six police officers were lightly injured in the clashes, and were all treated on the site.
Some 150 of left-wing and Arab activists arrived at the neighborhood in the afternoon hours. At a certain stage, some of them attempted to march towards houses inhabited by Jews. A police and Border Guard force stationed in the area was ordered to stop them from reaching their target.
A violent clash erupted in the area as the activists refused to leave. The police forcibly dispersed the crowd, spraying pepper gas. Calm was restored in the neighborhood following the arrests. The detainees were taken in for questioning.
Maya Wind of the Rabbis for Human Rights organizations, who took part in the rally, recounted the clash with Ynet.
"We were standing in the backyard of the al-Qurd family, which was evacuated from its house, and protested quietly. Suddenly one of the policemen said, 'They are trying to break into the house.' This was completely untrue. A number of policemen and soldiers jumped on one of the protestors who was holding a camera and began beating him, and it all deteriorated from that moment."
'One arrest led to another' (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
According to Wind, "They sprayed tear gas into people's eyes, used unnecessary force and touched women in a sexual manner. One arrest led to another. They simply attacked us, and we couldn't escape. People who were in the area couldn't leave and were hit, and this was all simply unnecessary. We were protesting quietly, without any violence."
Wind claimed that the protestors were suffering from various injuries and that some evacuated themselves to hospitals to receive medical care.
A similar rally took place in the neighborhood two weeks ago. Some 70 east Jerusalem residents and Jewish left-wing activists marched from the city center towards the Simeon the Just compound in Sheikh Jarrah, "in protest of the State and municipality's treatment of the Arab residents of east Jerusalem."
The protestors gathered in front of houses inhabited in the past few months by a group of Jews with a court order. Police and security forces were dispatched to the area to maintain order. The rally ended without any signs of violence.
Ronen Medzini contributed to this report