311_j'lem succa protest.
(photo credit: Melanie Lidman)
Dozens of left-wing activists protested outside the Jerusalem Municipality succa in Kikar Safra on Monday night while Mayor Nir Barkat held a two-hour meet-and- greet session inside it.
Two protesters were taken for questioning by the police, who kept the succa’s entrance closed to the public for at least half an hour while they attempted to get the protesters under control. One guard was injured lightly when he was pushed and hit his head against a stone pillar.
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The activists were part of the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity group, which has organized weekly demonstrations in Sheikh Jarrah to protest the evacuation of three Arab families. About 50 activists held up signs protesting the mayor’s actions in east Jerusalem and chanted slogans about the recent events in the neighborhoods of Isawiya and Silwan.
“Barkat set up this succa for all the residents of Jerusalem, but he forgot about 300,000 of them,” said activist Zvi Benninga. “We came here to remind Barkat that he has 300,000 people that he’s neglecting systematically. He can’t hide behind being nonpolitical in his development in the city… Hopefully it will sink in for a few Jerusalem residents who will start asking questions about what he’s doing to our city.”
A municipality representative told The Jerusalem Post
that “the municipality is proud of the thriving democracy that exists in the State of Israel and the ability of daily protests to occur throughout the city on an array of issues.”
The representative added that “the municipality is also proud to have thousands of Jerusalem residents and visitors from around the country and throughout the world, including Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders, who can enjoy the succa at the municipality and the events around it.”
The municipality is hosting nightly events and live music during the intermediate days of Succot at the huge “Jerusalem succa,” which encompasses nearly half of the plaza in Kikar Safra.
On Monday night, the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity movement planned to have its activists enter the succa and interrupt Barkat’s event. Only about 10 activists managed to get into the succa, and they were removed as soon as they took out their signs.
The activists marched around the perimeter of the plaza for more than two hours, drawing a crowd of two dozen police and Border Police officers, as well as curious onlookers on the other side of the barrier that followed them around the plaza.
“I think it’s a shame – they should be embarrassed,” said Sara, a Jerusalem resident. “It’s a holiday. Why do they need to come now?”
“It’s not the right time or the right place,” said Gilad Avinoam, a visitor from Hashmonaim. “They’re not really doing anything, it’s only because the police are near them that they’re attracting attention.”
Last Wednesday, Silwan resident Samr Sirkhan, 32, was killed by a
private security guard for Jewish families in the neighborhood. The
guard reportedly opened fire when he felt his life was in danger from a
group of Arab residents throwing stones. In the ensuing riots on
Wednesday and Thursday, 10 people were wounded and 16 were arrested. On
Friday, parents of a one-and-a-half-year-old baby claimed their
asthmatic son had been killed by the amount of tear gas used in Isawiya
to quell the riots following Sirkhan’s death.
The tension in east Jerusalem continued after the riots, with one
incident in Silwan in which a Molotov cocktail was thrown into a parked
car, causing light damage. Border Police found two more Molotov
cocktails when they swept the area, and took a few suspects to the
police station for questioning.