Rightist Jewish organization sues Sheikh Jarrah activists for libel
Elad demands NIS 500,000 in damages from leftist activists for claiming that Elad's operations cause harm to East Jerusalem Palestinians.
The Elad organization filed a libel suit against 15 activists in the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement. The suit, demanding NIS 500,000 in damages, claims the activists sullied the good name of Elad during an activity they held on Passover at the gate to City of David, an archeological site in East Jerusalem operated by Elad. The activists handed out information materials to visitors and held alternative tours of the site, stressing the damage they said was being caused to local Palestinian residents by Elad's operation of the site.
Elad was particularly incensed by Solidarity's claim that a security guard employed by the organization shot dead a Palestinian resident of Silwan, Samer Sirhan, eight months ago. They stressed that while Solidarity activists linked the guard to Elad, he was, in fact, employed by the Housing Ministry. In the last year the movement has filed libel suits against a number of activists and leftist groups.
Solidarity said in response that the attempts of Elad and other extremist elements to intimidate its activists "testify to the panic experienced by the leaders of the settlement when Solidarity systematically exposes the true and dangerous face of the settlement activity in East Jerusalem."
Elad spokesman Udi Ragones said that a libel suit was the only democratic means left for his organization. He said that Elad did not aim to restrict freedom of speech, but to support public debate within the boundaries of the law and good taste.
Ragones also denied any connection to graffiti sprayed near the homes of two Solidarity activists in West Jerusalem. The slogans included "death to lefties" and "price tag."
Meanwhile, a violent clash took place yesterday between settlers and Palestinians in the Hinnom Valley, between the neighborhoods of Silwan and Abu Tor in East Jerusalem. The Palestinians claimed that the settlers, who live in a house nearby and have links to the Elad organization, tried to fence off a plot of land that didn't belonged to them. The settlers claimed that they began building a fence after a neighbor tried to plant trees on their property. The argument exploded into a violent brawl with stone throwing, only days after large numbers of protesters and police clashed nearby during Nakba Day. Policemen who arrived at the scene broke up the brawl and detained two people from each side for questioning.