|sheikh jarrah 311.(Photo by: Paelei Sheikh Jarrah)|
Protesters clash with police
By BEN HARTMAN
Sheikh Jarrah demonstrators break through barrier.
Eight protesters were released from custody on Friday night, hours after they
were arrested for ignoring police orders and attempting to break through a
police barrier in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in northeast
Friday’s arrests took place as protesters attempted to protest
in the Shimon Hatzadik compound, where two Arab families were evicted in August
2009 after a court ruled in favor of the Jewish owner of their
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Police only allow protests at a playground across a street
leading to the area.
Many of the more than 250 Arab and leftwing
activists said police used heavyhanded tactics to prevent them from entering the
section of the neighborhood where Jews live.
It was initially reported
that police had assaulted novelist David Grossman, a regular at the Friday
protests. Witnesses and police denied the report, saying that Grossman was
merely in the crowd of protesters that police and border policemen pushed out of
The eight protesters taken into custody were ordered by the
court to stay away from the protests for two weeks. Police said all eight would
face criminal charges.
According to police, the protesters were arrested
for ignoring the orders of officers, holding an illegal gathering, blocking
traffic and trying to break a police barrier at the entrance to the street where
the Jewish residents’ live.
After 17 demonstrators were arrested in
Sheikh Jarrah in January, the Jerusalem District Court ruled their arrest was
illegal and the protests lawful, even if they are held without a
Activist Avner Inbar said Friday’s police response was one of the
most severe he’d seen at the protests, and said it might have been due to a
letter published earlier this month, in which more than 40 Israeli jurists,
politicians, authors, and academics called on Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein
to probe allegations of wrongdoing on the part of Jerusalem police in Sheikh
“That might have made them angry,” Inbar said.
letter-writers claimed that police have conducted themselves in an illegal
manner in Sheikh Jarah, have violated court decisions, and enforce the law in a
discriminatory manner. The letter also argues that such conduct may be the
result of political bias in the Jerusalem police district.
that as opposed to previous protests, in which police appeared to make arrests
in a random fashion, police on Friday went into the crowd and arrested people
they saw as leaders of the demonstrations, focusing in particular on people who
had been arrested before.
Inbar said that the Sheikh Jarrah protest is
not focused on the police.
“Our struggle is not against police, it’s
against the settlers. The problem is that the police have taken sides,”
said, adding that police follow a double standard in dealing with
right-wing protesters there.
A Jerusalem Police spokesman on Saturday
denied that police sought out specific protesters to arrest. The
that police only moved in after their orders were repeatedly
“They [the activists] have their area to protest in, and they
decided to go down and break into the area where the Jewish families
told them time and time again to leave and they refused, so we had to
reasonable force to remove them,” the spokesman said.
Around two weeks
ago, construction began on the Shepherd Hotel project elsewhere in
Jarrah, which will convert the hotel into 20 housing units for Jews.
project is the initiative of US businessman Irving Moskowitz, who owns
hotel, and has been met with criticism from the Obama administration.