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Pro-peace protest in Jerusalem voices opposition to violence, incitement

CM 24/04/2021

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Following several days of violence and tensions in Jerusalem, a pro-peace protest was held in the capital on Saturday evening. The protest, an initiative organized by the Peace Now NGO, was held at Jerusalem’s Zion Square in Jerusalem as a response to the “racist ideology” being spread across the city these past few days. The protest was attended by hundreds of people of all ages, all hoping to voice a clear opposition to violence, racism and incitement.  Protesters were heard chanting: “no such thing as democracy with occupation” and “Jerusalem has no place for Lehava,” calling on Jews and Arabs to unite, in face of extremist ideology, which has recently resurfaced in Israeli discourse – especially after Itamar Ben-Gvir, an active supporter of Rabbi Meir Kahane, entered Israeli politics.  A protester holds a sign that reads: "No to Arab terrorism, no to Jewish terrorism, enough to racism!", Jerusalem, April 24, 2021. (Credit: Aliza Gold)A protester holds a sign that reads: “No to Arab terrorism, no to Jewish terrorism, enough to racism!”, Jerusalem, April 24, 2021. (Credit: Aliza Gold)“I’m afraid for my city,” one protester told The Jerusalem Post. “I would like to grow my children in an equal and tolerant Jerusalem.” She noted that in her view, “racist outbursts like this one are usually connected to incitement carried out by leaders and racists,” adding that she hopes the pluralistic community in the city is strong enough to oppose these concerning trends. Many protesters told the Post that they were planning on joining the protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu taking place at the same time on Balfour Street.

No clashes were reported with police during the protest. A protester holds a sign that reads: "If you are neutral in situations of injustice you are choosing the side of the oppressor," Jerusalem, April 24, 2021. (Credit: Eve Young)A protester holds a sign that reads: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice you are choosing the side of the oppressor,” Jerusalem, April 24, 2021. (Credit: Eve Young)Tensions were high in the capital throughout the weekend. On Thursday evening, dozens were injured and arrested as far-right Jewish extremists affiliated with the Jewish far-right organization Lehava, marched into east Jerusalem, chanting “Death to Arabs.”Lehava announced on Wednesday that it was planning a march while the Ramadan prayers at the Temple Mount were still underway, to protest the recent violence exhibited towards Jews over the last week. This came after a TikTok video circulated social media and showed an Arab teenager slapping a Jewish teenager on the Light Rail in Jerusalem for no apparent reason. Violent riots erupted in many parts of the city, as the Israel Police struggled to reach all reports of clashes between Arabs, Jews and security forces. Tensions continued on Saturday evening.Police reported violent clashes with locals in the predominantly Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in east Jerusalem, with rioters using pepper-spray against officers and assaulting them with rocks and flares. Earlier, a rock-throwing incident was reported at the Bar-Ilan Junction. A police report noted that a private vehicle was damaged and two of its passengers were injured but did not require medical attention. Police forces were dispatched to the area and are scanning the area after the suspects. In another incident, a resident of east Jerusalem was arrested earlier in the evening after attacking two bystanders on Sderot Hayim Barlev, near the French Hill. While touring the scenes of the ongoing riots in Jerusalem on Saturday evening, police commissioner Kobi Shabtai told reporters that the Israel Police was carrying out different tactics in order to gain control of the riots waging throughout the city.He noted that while “we can’t be everywhere … we will not allow the continued violence” and said that he instructed a reinforcement of hundreds of officers to be sent to dozens of areas in the city.” On Friday, the US Embassy in Jerusalem expressed concern over the clashes in Jerusalem in recent days.”We hope all responsible voices will promote an end to incitement, a return to calm, and respect for the safety and dignity of everyone in Jerusalem,” read the embassy statement.The EU Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Peter Stano said “the EU is deeply concerned by…violent clashes in Jerusalem. These latest incidents follow several nights of tension and violence in Jerusalem, as well as in Jaffa earlier [last] week.”Two young Arab men attacked Rabbi Eliahu Mali and Moshe Shandovitz of the Shirat Moshe Yeshiva in Jaffa last week.”The EU calls for calm and an immediate lowering of tensions and for restraint and responsibility to be shown by all, in particular by community leaders and officials at this sensitive time. Incitement and violence have to be rejected by all,” Stano stated.Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi only spoke out against violence by Jews against Arabs, and implied violence against Jews by Arabs is Israel’s fault.”We strongly condemn the racist attacks on Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem and urge prompt international action to protect Jerusalemites,” Safadi tweeted. “As the occupying power under international law, Israel is responsible for stopping these attacks and for the dangerous consequences of failing to do so.”Lahav Harkov and Sarah Ben-Nun contributed to this report.
Source: Jerusalem Post

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