Police arrested 15 leftist protesters in East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood Friday, including the executive director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Hagai El-Ad. Weekly demonstrations have been held in Sheikh Jarrah for the past three months, in protest against the eviction of Palestinians from their homes and the entry into the neighborhood of Jewish families in their stead.
Activists said that in contrast with previous weeks, the demonstration on Friday was held without a permit. When the protest began police declared it illegal and threatened to arrest participants. One witness reported that police officers first arrested key participants, including El-Ad and a protester who waved a Palestinian flag.
In a statement, the association said it "harshly condemned the police's suppression of freedom of speech, which had no legal grounds. The demonstration was forcefully dispersed even though it was held legally, with no provocations or disruptions of public order."
Jerusalem police said in response that the demonstration was an illegal protest of anarchists and leftists who did not listen to police orders, and that if the head of the Association of Civil Rights in Israel allows himself to participate in an illegal protest, then he should not be surprised to find himself arrested.
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