Violent clashes erupted Friday during protests in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah. A Jewish toddler was lightly wounded by a marble fired from a slingshot, and three demonstrators were arrested.
In recent months, demonstrators have clashed with police in Silwan nearly every week. This Friday, though, according to eyewitnesses, the Muslim Friday prayers had concluded without any incident. "It was quiet, tense but totally quiet, and then we suddenly saw a column of at least 20 Special Patrol policemen march into the village, like on parade," Rabbi Arik Ascherman, director of Rabbis for Human Rights, told Haaretz, saying he would not have believed it had he not witnessed it with his own eyes. "It was totally bizarre," he said.
When police entered the village, they were met with a barrage of stones, later directed at the homes of Jewish settlers in the neighborhood. A 2-year-old Jewish toddler was wounded lightly by a marble fired from a slingshot and was treated at the scene. Police responded with volleys of tear gas.
Meanwhile, riots also erupted in Sheikh Jarrah during the weekly protest of the Solidarity movement, culminating in the arrest of three protesters. Several others were injured. Police said the riots began when protesters tried to break into one of the settler homes, while the protesters asserted the violence broke out when a Palestinian, apparently mentally disturbed, tried to grab a bullhorn from a police officer. The three detainees remained under arrest throughout the weekend and appeared in court last night, while their comrades demonstrated in solidarity outside. Police asked the court to ban the activists from entering Sheikh Jarrah for 90 days.
One notable participant at Friday's protest was diplomat Ilan Baruch, who resigned from the Foreign Ministry last week in protest at government policy.
The Jerusalem district police last week released its crime summary for 2010. The report noted that although crime in general had dropped as compared to 2009, the number of violent incidents in East Jerusalem had skyrocketed: 1,279 incidents of stone-throwing were reported in 2010 - up 137 percent from the previous year. The number of petrol bombs thrown in the eastern part of the city had more than doubled, with 54 incidents reported in 2010, as compared with 21 the year before.
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