Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90
Firefighters put out a burning car belonging to Jewish family in Sheikh Jarrah, May 6, 2021.

Violent clashes broke out on Thursday night between Arabs and Jews in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem. Jewish residents who had been attacked in the riots pulled out guns near a vehicle that was ignited by Arab rioters and fired several shots at unidentified targets. Earlier, Arabs threw stones and chairs at Jews and used pepper spray. Police arrested 15 suspects for disorderly conduct and assaulting police officers, and used streams of stink water to disperse the crowd.

Sheikh Jarrah, a.k.a. Shimon Hatzadik,  is a neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem, a little over a mile north of the Old City, on the road to Mount Scopus. In 1948, the British government ordered the Jews of the neighborhood to leave, and an attempt to take over the area by the Haganah was repelled by the British-led Jordanian Legion. In 1956, the Jordanians moved to the neighborhood Arab families who had fled from towns inside Israel and gave them 33-year leases. In a process that began in 1982, the Jewish owners of 17 homes in the area fought in court to get them back. In 2009, the High Court of Justice ordered the removal of 60 Arab squatters from Jewish-owned property, and Jewish families moved in. Since then, there have been Arab protests in the neighborhood every week, especially on Fridays, led by a leftist NGO calling itself the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement.

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Video footage of Thursday’s riots shows clashes between Jews and Arabs in the area, and Jews with guns drawn inside the neighborhood and near the flames of the burning car which had been ignited by local Arabs.

News 12 reporter Moshe Nussbaum, who covered the riots in the city, was attacked by a police officer during the clashes.

The Arab riot broke out in response to the temporary office established by MK Itamar Ben Gvir in the Shimon Hatzadik neighborhood, to make sure that the police start dealing with the Arab rioters. The office was a tent with a sign bearing Ben Gvir’s name, which Arab residents dismantled after dozens of Arabs threw stones and other objects at the makeshift office.

MK Ben Gvir and Lehavah chairman Bentzi Gopstein in their improvised office in Sheikh Jarrah, May 6, 2021. / Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

Police in the area created a dividing line between MK Ben Gvir and Lehavah chairman Bentzi Gopstein and the Arab residents.

MK Ben Gvir stated: “Arab rioters destroyed my office. Throwing stones, chairs, and everything, while the cops stood by and did not intervene. The police have gone bankrupt – it’s time to give the cops a strong backing. Instead of handcuffing the cops, order them to deal with bullies. It is time for the police to take action against those who have been trying for days to harm the residents of the Shimon Hatzadik neighborhood and the sovereignty of the State of Israel.”

Shortly before, the police dispersed a crowd on the main axis of Sheikh Jarrah-Shchem Road near the scene of the clashes and blocked anyone who did not live on the street where the clashes were taking place.

Israeli mounted police clash with Arab protesters in Sheikh Jarrah, May 6, 2021. / Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

The security establishment in Jerusalem had decided earlier on Thursday to increase alertness for fear of escalation in several neighborhoods of eastern Jerusalem. A military source told Kan 11 News that the decision was made against the background of the end of Ramadan, Jerusalem Day—which will start next Sunday night and will include the traditional parade of Israeli flags through Arab neighborhoods. These events follow the attack at Tapuach Junction and the arrest of the terrorist who carried it out. In addition, there’s also the Supreme Court hearing on the issue of Sheikh Jarrah which is scheduled for Sunday, on the eve of the day of the liberation of Jerusalem, and the threats of Mohammed Deif, the commander of Hamas’s Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, to ignite the border with Israel if “Israeli aggression in East Jerusalem continues.”

Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the Temple Mount Organizations Assaf Fried announced on Thursday night that on Jerusalem Day—this coming Monday—the Temple Mount will be open to Jewish pilgrims. Fried announced that “there has been no announcement regarding the closure of the Temple Mount on Jerusalem Day,” and that “what was true two years ago, when it was open on Jerusalem Day, with the help of God will also be true on the coming Jerusalem Day.”

Have a quiet and peaceful Shabbat.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.