After Flag March, clashes between Palestinians, Jews, cops flare in East Jerusalem

Palestinians, Jewish Israelis, and Israeli police clashed at several locations across Jerusalem on Sunday night, capping off a long, tense day in the city that hosted the contentious Flag March of tens of thousands of nationalist Jews through the Old City.

At least five Israeli Police officers, as well as several Jews and Palestinians, were injured in the violence. Palestinians hurled stones at a Jewish Israeli near the Dung Gate to the Old City, according to Israeli police. The victim was hospitalized in good condition.

Earlier, over 70,000 Jewish Israelis marched through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter to celebrate Israel’s 1967 capture of the city’s eastern half. The march took place in the shadow of threats by Palestinian terror groups to violently respond, as well as racist chants by participants.

Both Palestinians and Jews in the flashpoint Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood engaged in violent clashes that involved stone-throwing later in the evening. Police sought to forcibly disperse the rioters, with some officers chasing them down on horseback.

Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood to the north of the Old City, has become a flashpoint in the struggle for Jerusalem between Jews and Palestinians. Jewish Israelis have slowly moved into the area through complex eviction cases, sparking tensions with Palestinian residents.

In footage from the scene, Jewish Israelis can be seen hurling stones at Palestinian homes on the other side of the street. It was unclear how the clashes began, but Palestinian residents blamed “Jewish extremists” for beginning the fight.

“They broke cars, threw stones at homes, and tried to beat people. They sprayed people with pepper gas,” said Sheikh Jarrah resident Salah Diab, who witnessed the confrontations.

Police also detained Tal Yoshvayev, an Israeli resident whose car was torched several times, allegedly by Palestinian assailants. He was later released.

Palestinians hurled stones at another Israeli on the scene who was later treated by medics.

Diab acknowledged that Palestinians had engaged in the clashes as well, but claimed it had been in self-defense. According to Israel Police, two people were arrested for rioting in Sheikh Jarrah on Sunday evening.

“This is the first time I’ve seen this kind of violence. And the police did nothing. There were Arabs, okay, who were trying to defend themselves, and the police would then arrest them for defending themselves,” Diab told The Times of Israel.

In another clip from the scene, an Israeli-flag-bearing man can be seen attempting to beat a Palestinian emerging from a car with the banner.

 

“Israel Police apprehended two suspects who had assaulted Israel Border Police officers operating in the area,” a police spokesperson said in a statement.

Iyad Harb, the police correspondent for the Kan public broadcaster’s Arabic station, was taken to hospital after he was assaulted by masked men, also in Sheikh Jarrah.

Harb said the assailants who maced him and then beat him as he fell to the ground were speaking Hebrew.

“The masked Jewish youths asked me to stop filming and then they assaulted me with pepper spray or tear gas… then I fell to the ground and they hit me on the head and back with sticks, and kicked me,” Harb said

Two Israeli buses also came under attack in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiya, according to footage circulating on social media.

The video shows dozens of Palestinians hurling stones and setting one of the vehicles on fire. Aside from the drivers, nobody was on the buses. There were also no reports of injuries.

Several dozen Palestinians also marched in Silwan, in East Jerusalem, in protest of the Jerusalem Day march. Others set tires ablaze near the Qalandiya checkpoint on the outskirts of northern Jerusalem.

Despite being a national holiday, Jerusalem Day, which marks Israel’s conquest of the Old City and East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War, is celebrated nowadays mainly by right-wing religious Jews.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday morning called on those taking part in the afternoon march to behave responsibly as he wished Israelis a happy Jerusalem Day.

“Flying the Israeli flag in the capital of Israel is self-evident,” Bennett said. “I request that the participants celebrate responsibly and in a respectful manner.”

Head of the Religious Zionist Party MK Bezalel Smotrich waves an Israeli flag at Damascus Gate outside Jerusalem’s Old City, during Jerusalem Day celebrations, May 29, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Police deployed some 2,000 officers to secure the rally, anticipating the tensions, and plainclothes security officers dotted the Old City’s alleyways.

Nonetheless, sporadic clashes broke out between right-wing Israeli marchers and Palestinians throughout the day. At least 60 people were detained for violence, according to the Israel Police. Five Israeli police officers, three Israelis and 40 Palestinians were wounded, according to police and medics.

The procession was seen as the largest Jerusalem Day march in years, with tens of thousands of Jewish Israelis swamping downtown Jerusalem and heading to Damascus Gate, where a wave of blue-and-white flags could be seen stretching well into the distance.

Palestinians also clashed with Israeli police in a protest off of Salah al-Din street, near the Jerusalem Day procession. A large group of demonstrators, waving Palestinian flags, can be seen in footage from the area. Most of the detainees appear to have been Palestinians from that rally.


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