Hundreds of Jews and Arabs gathered in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah on Friday, May 21, to protest against the planned eviction of several Palestinian families.
The protests in Sheikh Jarrah are nothing new, and have been taking place long before mainstream media gave them any attention. However, a social media campaign, during which the hashtag “save Sheikh Jarrah” trended on Twitter for months, combined with the recent deadly Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip have made the Palestinian neighborhood the center of both Israeli and international media.
Over the last weeks a series of joint Jewish and Arab protests calling for peace and for an end to ongoing violence have taken place across Israel and the West Bank. Hundreds Jews and Arabs arrived on Friday to protest peacefully at the entrance to the neighborhood. However, Israel Border Police broke up and dispersed the protestors, despite the peaceful nature of the event.
Joint List MK Ofer Cassif (Hadash) told Zo Haderech that police violently broke up the quiet protest of hundreds against the eviction of Palestinian families there because one of the participants waved a Palestinian flag. It is legal to wave a Palestinian flag in Israel and occupied Jerusalem, but police often use it as a pretext for breaking up protests insisting, “That it can lead to unrest.”
Earlier, protestors gathered in Husan Junction in the occupied West Bank, near Bethlehem, alongside Combatants for Peace, Breaking the Silence and Standing Together activists. The protest, described by participants as a “freedom march” was a joint demonstration of Israelis and Palestinians who were calling for peace and an end to Israeli occupation in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Hadash MK Cassif and Meretz MK Mossi Raz, attended the march and reported that police were issuing parking tickets to journalists reporting on the event, who had parked their vehicles at the side of the road.
A statement made by Israel’s police unit for “Judea and Samaria” (occupation lingo for the West Bank) said that, “Protestors blocked the road in the Etzion region and caused a public disturbance, leading the police to disperse the event.” Eight protestors, four Israelis and four Palestinians were arrested during the demonstration.
Protestors at both the freedom march and in Sheikh Jarrah held signs and banners with various slogans calling for end the occupation, including one, which read, “Stop the war. Lift the Siege. There is another way,” in reference to the blockade of Gaza, which has been in place since 2007.