Around 300 protesters attended Friday's weekly demonstration in Sheikh Jarrah to protest purchases of property in the East Jerusalem neighborhood by Jewish buyers. Unlike in recent weeks, however, police did not disperse the demonstrators and made no arrests.
The authorities' relative restraint comes in the wake of Thursday's Jerusalem Magistrate's Court ruling that no permits are required for the demonstrations and that the police must not use force against them.
Among the demonstrators was the author David Grossman. "There are times when one cannot sit quietly. The settlers and the right - with tremendous help from the government, legal system and financial powers - are abusing the Palestinians in a thousand ways," Grossman said.
"They are complicating the situation to such an extent as to make any peace agreement impossible, and are basically destroying our future," he said. Referring to the almost symbolic status the protesters in Sheikh Jarrah have achieved, Grossman said, "maybe it's because of the way in which the settlers are taking control of East Jerusalem, which is brazen even by their standards. And maybe because Jerusalem is so symbolic and sensitive that whatever happens here takes on enormous significance."
Also participating in the protest was MK Ilan Ghilon (New Movement-Meretz), who warned that settler activity in Sheikh Jarrah would effectively lead to the implementation of the Palestinians' hoped-for right of return, as settlers rely on pre-state property titles to determine ownership. "If settlers can prove the ownership of 28 homes, the Palestinians can prove ownership of 28,000," he said.
For the first time since protests in the neighborhood began, a small gathering of rightist activists led by Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir held a counter-demonstration. Ben-Gvir praised the left-wing protesters for proving that such rallies do not require prior court approval.
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