Far-right politician Itamar Ben Gvir brandished a gun amid clashes between Arabs and Jews in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of east Jerusalem on Thursday evening, as violence resumed for a second night in a number of neighborhoods in Jerusalem.
Jews and Arabs were throwing stones at each other when the Otzma Yehudit party leader pulled out his handgun. Police were on the scene near Ben Gvir during the incident.
"It is inconceivable that Arabs throw stones near the police and the police do not respond by shooting," Ben Gvir stated after the incident. "It's time to stop the lawlessness." The MK did not make mention of the Jews throwing stones in the clashes.
The unrest came a day after clashes broke out in Sheikh Jarrah after Jewish rioters threw stones at a mosque in the neighborhood.
A 17-year-old Jewish boy sustained a head injury in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem on Thursday night after Arabs threw stones at him. MDA reported that his condition was moderate and he was conscious. An additional person was lightly injured in the clashes.
On Friday morning, Israel Police reported that 18 people suspected of being involved in the unrest had been arrested overnight. While violence was reported in multiple locations in the capital overnight, it was less extensive compared to the riots that broke out on Wednesday night.
Additionally on Thursday night, the Defense Ministry reported that gunshots were heard near the Gilboa crossing in northern Israel. The security forces at the crossing opened an investigation and the crossing was subsequently closed to vehicle traffic.
Preparation for clashes
Israeli security forces were bracing for more violence on Thursday after clashes broke out across east Jerusalem and numerous West Bank towns on Wednesday night, with four Border Police reserve companies called up to bolster forces in east Jerusalem and surrounding areas.
The decision to increase police troops came after Palestinians called for a “day of rage” on Friday.
Following the riots overnight on Wednesday, Prime Minister Yair Lapid held several security situational assessments during the day along with Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev, police chief Kobi Shabtai, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Ronen Bar and other security officials.
A statement from Lapid’s office said “security forces are deployed throughout the country and are making possible all the holiday events in Jerusalem and in general.”
Israel is “determined” to let the holiday celebrations continue while acting with a “strong and uncompromising hand against terror and violent disturbances.”
Bar-Lev said the riots in east Jerusalem “were very serious,” but the police were able to bring them under control.
“We have no intention of allowing disruption of order and violence, the police will work against whomever necessary to keep the peace, while continuing the search after the terrorist who carried out the shooting attack on Saturday,” he said.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz also held a situational assessment following the violence, with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi, Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Ghassan Alian, Shabtai, Bar and others.
Following the meeting, Gantz emphasized the need to increase both offensive and defensive actions as well as to increase the effort to prevent incitement to terrorism on social networks.
Gantz also stressed “the importance of the proper and increased preparation of forces in general at points of friction, partly on the basis of the reserve Border Police companies whose mobilization was approved,” his office said.
Four reserve companies will be mobilized Friday morning, with two deployed to the Jerusalem sector and the others to surrounding areas. A total of 10 Border Police reserve companies have been placed on alert.
The reserve troops will be deployed alongside the regular forces, including Border Police companies, a tactical brigade, as well as undercover and military units.
Overnight Wednesday, Palestinians hurled rocks, Molotov cocktails and fireworks toward security forces, and set tires and dumpsters on fire throughout neighborhoods in east Jerusalem.
The riots, over the closure of the Shuafat refugee camp following last week’s deadly shooting, were the most violent clashes in the area in years. Clashes also broke out in Kalandiya, north of Jerusalem.
In the West Bank, Palestinian rioters also threw Molotov cocktails and stones at Israeli vehicles near Kedumim, Hebron, Psagot and other locations.
Two police officers were injured in Isawiya, a Jerusalem neighborhood, and 20 Palestinians were arrested during the riots.
Jewish worshippers pray at Joseph's Tomb in Nablus despite violence
Despite the violence, Jewish worshipers prayed at Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, entering and exiting the city, which the IDF has sealed in response to escalating violence.
On Thursday, clashes also broke out in Huwara, south of Nablus, after a number of settlers hurled rocks at Palestinian cars and homes and set fire to three trucks and a park.
According to WAFA, settlers from the nearby Yitzhar threw stones at the fire truck that came to put out the fire. Local Palestinian residents then began hurling rocks at passing Israeli vehicles. A Palestinian man and several Israeli minors suffered minor injuries during the clashes.
Gantz told Ynet that the areas of Nablus and Jenin are “very challenging” and that’s why there’s been an increase in troop deployment and intelligence gathering.
“We use all means at our disposal, and we bolster the forces in all [hot spot] areas as much as we can. We also conduct offensive operations in Nablus, Jenin, and wherever we are required,” he said.
"We use all means at our disposal, and we bolster the forces in all [hotspot] areas as much as we can. We also conduct offensive operations in Nablus, Jenin, and wherever we are required.”Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz
According to Gantz, the Lions’ Den has “some 30 members” and that security forces will arrest those involved in the group.
“We will figure out how to reach them, and we will eliminate them. This terror group will be dismantled, and I hope as soon as possible,” he said.