At least 40 persons were injured when violent clashes erupted at the Damascus Gate of the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem late Thursday night and early Friday morning, April 22-23, as Palestinian protesters confronted a group of some 300 extreme-right Israeli activists who marched to the scene chanting “Death to Arabs.” Trying to keep the groups apart, police clashed with the Palestinians.
According to Al-Ittihad and Zo Haderech, most of the fascists present at the scene were linked to the Lehava organization, a militant right-wing movement, which Israeli officials have previously labeled a terrorist group. Lehava’s leader, Ben-Zion Gopstein, took part in the Thursday’s march and the Jerusalem Post quoted him as saying “We’ve come here tonight to clarify to anyone who thinks otherwise: Jerusalem is ours!”
At least 40 Palestinians were injured in the clashes at the Damascus Gate, of whom seven were hospitalized, while many others were reportedly injured slightly at other locations where they were treated by local medics. Additional cases of inflammation and contusions were also reported as a result of the water cannons used by Israeli occupation forces who provided protection for the extreme-right racist hooligans.
While police did appear to take measures to halt the far-right fanatics, the head of the Joint List, MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash), questioned the intentions of the occupation forces, claiming they had enabled the far-right demonstrators to “organize a pogrom.”
The office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abas (Abu Mazen) has strongly condemned the growing incitement by far-right Israeli extremist groups advocating the killing of Arabs, which in recent days has manifested itself in a wave of attacks against Palestinian civilians in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem.
In a press statement issued on Friday, the office of the President reaffirmed that “East Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Palestine and is a red line,” and urged the international community to protect the Palestinian people from the ongoing settler attacks which, the statement said, were encouraged by the Israeli government.