Police vow to squash East Jerusalem protests despite court order
Jerusalem Magistrate's Court criticized police's forceful response against 'legal' Sheikh Jarrah protests.
Despite a court ruling to the contrary, Jerusalem police said Thursday that it plans on forcibly putting down on a left-wing demonstration against a Jewish takeover of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem.
Public demonstrations and protests by left-wing activists angry over the eviction of Arab families from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah are legal so long as they do not disturb the public order and disrupt traffic, the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court ruled on Thursday.
Nationalist Jews won legal rights to ownership of the homes in Sheikh Jarrah through the use of documents dating from the period of the British mandate in Palestine.
To date, more than 70 people have been arrested during demonstrations at Sheikh Jarrah. The demonstrations are organized by groups of independent activists.
In recent weeks the police and the activists had reached an agreement that the demonstrators would be granted permits, and consequently the demonstrations have been relatively uneventful.
However, the activists say they were not given a permit for the last demonstration because a day earlier a different event had taken place that included a rap party with groups singing in Arabic.
The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court rejected the police's request for a restraining order against 18 individuals who were arrested during the protests. The court did, however, bar them from protests which are deemed illegal.
The attorney representing the jailed activists, Michael Sfard, said he was satisfied with the court's ruling, declaring it "a major victory" for the protesters.
This is the second time that the court has censured the police for its conduct in breaking up the Sheikh Jarrah protests, which have been staged on a weekly basis. Despite the court ruling, Jerusalem police officials say they're determined to disperse Friday's protest.
The top legal adviser to the Jerusalem police district sent a letter Thursday to his counterpart at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, one of the demonstration's organizers.
According to the letter, Jerusalem police plan to break up the protest by force beginning at 3:30 P.M. The demonstration itself is scheduled to begin at 3:00 P.M.