Activists from Left, Right clash in east Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah

Pending evictions in the neighborhood were the trigger for the heated altercations.

POLICE DETAIN an Arab boy during scuffles that erupted in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, north of Jerusalem’s Old City, yesterday. (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
POLICE DETAIN an Arab boy during scuffles that erupted in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, north of Jerusalem’s Old City, yesterday.
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
Right-wing activists living in the recently evacuated Shamasneh home and leftwing demonstrators fought on Friday during a protest against the eviction of Arab families from the capital’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
The protesters were demonstrating against pending evictions in the neighborhood.
They marched from the neighborhood’s commercial center holding signs that read, “Sheikh Jarrah is Palestine” and chanted, “Security is not obtained by evacuating homes.”
Eviction proceedings are purportedly under way against around 40 families in the Umm Haroun section of Sheikh Jarrah.
At around 4 p.m., some 150 left-wing activists gathered next to the house.
“Get out of the house, you thieves,” and, “Your Judaism is [based on] theft and robbery,” they chanted.
When two of the residents of the house came outside, one left-wing activist shouted at them: “What you’re doing is anti-Jewish, immoral and inhumane – God will never forgive you.”
At a certain point, both sides started pushing, and one of the right-wing activists sprayed tear gas at the crowd. Police then intervened to separate the groups.
Later some left-wing protesters confronted police and three were arrested, among them an eight-year-old Arab boy.
Four left-wing activists were wounded during the clashes, and another 10 suffered from inhaling the tear gas. A Palestinian Red Crescent Society ambulance came and medics treated the injured.
Arieh King, chairman of the Israel Land Fund, told The Jerusalem Post inside the disputed house he was not intimidated by the large crowd outside.
King then quoted a proverb found in many languages, from the Middle East to India: “The dogs bark, but the caravan goes on,” meaning that progress moves ahead, no matter the criticism it may attract.
“We already went through this kind of experience in the [east Jerusalem neighborhoods] of Ras al-Amud, Beit Hanina, Mount of Olives, Nof Zion and also in Shimon Hatzadik [the other side of Sheikh Jarrah]. By Sunday no one will remember anything about it,” he said.
King said he was sorry that the [Shamasneh] family was put on the street, but stressed that it was their own fault.
“They were offered the opportunity to buy the house, but they didn’t do it. They were then offered to stay here under our ownership, but they refused to pay rent,” he said.
The legal inheritors of the house offered the Shamasnehs a chance to buy the house, but they could afford it, Haaretz reported last week. One of the owners told the newspaper they subsequently sold the house to a wealthy individual, through the mediation of the Israel Land Fund, after being “pressured” by King and the fund.
Joining the left-wing protest were Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh and his faction colleague MK Yousef Jabarin, former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg, and former attorney-general Michael Ben-Yair, who lived in Sheikh Jarrah before 1948.
Jabarin criticized the police for in his words discriminating against the protesters and the Palestinian residents of the neighborhood, and for protecting the new Jewish residents of the house.
“The eviction itself happened under the protection and with help from the police, and what we see here that it provides protection only to the settlers,” he said.