Bennett seeks to douse political uproar, violence in Sheikh Jarrah

Hamas said clashes in Sheikh Jarrah foreshadow a repeat of the operation in May.

 MK Itamar Ben-Gvir arrives to open his office in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, February 13, 2022. (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
MK Itamar Ben-Gvir arrives to open his office in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, February 13, 2022.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Monday sought to douse both the political fires and violent clashes that raged in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in the aftermath of the firebombing of a Jewish home there on Friday. “The situation in which Jewish homes are set alight in Israel’s capital city is intolerable,” he said moments before boarding a plane to Bahrain.

Bennett was silent about the violence against Palestinian residents of the neighborhood.
There is a long history of attacks against both Palestinian and Jewish residents there, which has left both sides calling for increased security.
The pending eviction of Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah due to long-standing real-estate disputes has increased tensions among residents, with the international community and the Palestinian Authority accusing Israel of attempting to ethnically cleanse the neighborhood.
Prior to departing for Bahrain, Bennett held security consultations with the Israel Police, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev (Labor). Israeli security officials are concerned the violence in Sheikh Jarrah could have a ripple effect in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Religious Zionist Party MK Itamar Ben-Gvir has said the beleaguered neighborhood lacks an effective police presence. To call for better protection for its Jewish residents, on Sunday he symbolically opened a makeshift office outside near the home of the Yoshvayev family, whose house was firebombed while they were away. Ben-Gvir’s tent and folding table were also outside the Palestinian Salem family’s home, which could be slated for demolition next month. On Sunday night, police attempted to take down his tent.

JOINT LIST MKs Ofer Cassif and Ahmed Tibi also took part in the clashes on Sunday evening, with video from the scene showing the MKs brawling with right-wing protesters and former Jerusalem deputy mayor Aryeh King.

Bennett took issue, however, with the actions of opposition politicians from the right-wing Religious Zionist Party and from the left-wing Joint List. He accused those politicians of exploiting the situation for their own benefit.“We do not need provocateurs to come and set the area ablaze just for political goals,” Bennett said. “We need neither Ofer Cassif, nor Ben-Gvir, nor Tibi to run Jerusalem for us,” he said. “We will deal with it, and we will bring stability and security for the residents of the city. This is the responsibility of the government of Israel and nobody else. “The Israel Police has increased the level of security, and it will take care to secure all residents of the city even in sensitive neighborhoods; it is already in the process.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue and White) said Ben-Gvir’s actions were harming the State of Israel and urged him to let security forces do their job and not to “incite violence.” This “is not a game; it’s about human life,” he said.
Ben-Gvir said he planned to stay the course. “Until they install proper security measures for Shimon HaTzadik, my office will continue its operations” next to the Yoshvayev home, Ben-Gvir said.
 MK Itamar Ben Gvir seen with Lehava chairman Benzi Gopstein during a protest against Israel's plan to demolish some houses of Palestinians in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah on May 6, 2021 (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90) MK Itamar Ben Gvir seen with Lehava chairman Benzi Gopstein during a protest against Israel's plan to demolish some houses of Palestinians in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah on May 6, 2021 (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
In the evening, he requested that a police car be permanently stationed near the Yoshvayev family’s home, adding that so far, that had not happened.
Ben-Gvir said one proposal that had been made to him, and obviously rejected, was that the Yoshvayev family should leave for a few months until the end of Ramadan.
A number of MKs visited Ben-Gvir at his temporary Sheikh Jarrah office, including the Likud’s Shlomo Karhi, Amir Ohana and Yoav Galant.
The heads of the Land of Israel Caucus, MKs Yoav Kish (Likud) and Orit Struck (Religious Zionist Party), on Monday told Israel Police Insp.-Gen. Kobi Shabtai if the security of the Jewish residents of Sheikh Jarrah was not ensured immediately, the caucus would convene in the neighborhood in the coming days.

PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY officials on Monday said Israel was seeking to “seize” properties belonging to Palestinian residents of Jerusalem. PA President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the “settler violence” in Sheikh Jarrah and said the PLO leadership would meet soon to discuss the situation in Jerusalem. Abbas warned that Israel’s actions in the city would have serious repercussions.

 Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas adjusts his glasses as he listens during a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (not pictured), in the West Bank city of Ramallah, May 25, 2021.  (credit: ALEX BRANDON/POOL VIA REUTERS) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas adjusts his glasses as he listens during a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (not pictured), in the West Bank city of Ramallah, May 25, 2021. (credit: ALEX BRANDON/POOL VIA REUTERS)
Earlier, Abbas phoned Fatmeh Salem, a resident of Sheikh Jarrah who is facing eviction from her family home, and said: “We stand with you, and our hearts and minds are with you. The occupation will end soon.”
PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh called on the international community to exert pressure on Israel to halt its measures against Palestinians, especially in Sheikh Jarrah and the village of Silat al-Harthiya, near Jenin, where the IDF demolished the homes of terrorists involved in the murder of yeshiva student Yehuda Dimentman last December. Shtayyeh denounced the Israeli measures as “war crimes, oppression and ethnic cleansing.”
The PLO said Israel’s actions and policies would lead to an “explosion” and urged the international community to intervene with Israel to prevent a further escalation. Hussein al-Sheikh, head of the PA General Authority of Civil Affairs, accused Israel of working to “displace” the residents of Sheikh Jarrah. He said the Palestinian leadership was conducting intensive contacts with several countries to pressure the Jewish state to “stop all its repressive measures against the Palestinians in east Jerusalem.”
Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Haitham Abu Al Foui denounced the pending Sheikh Jarrah evictions of Palestinian families. “The ongoing unilateral Israeli actions of confiscating Palestinian lands and demolishing homes are illegal practices that set up the occupation and undermine the chances of achieving just and comprehensive peace on the basis of a two-state solution,” he was quoted by Petra News Service as saying.
On Monday, the Israel Police and the Shin Bet announced that two suspects had been arrested for torching the home. Eight Molotov cocktails, a sock hat and gloves were seized from the home of one of them. At least 12 suspects were arrested during the riots by police, who used sound grenades, rubber bullets and water cannons among other riot dispersal methods. Twenty-one Arabs were injured, the Jerusalem Red Crescent said Sunday.
Tensions surrounding planned evictions of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood were one of the reasons Palestinian terrorist groups cited for launching rockets at the capital on Jerusalem Day last year, sparking a nearly two-week-long conflict.