The Israel Police arrested 26 demonstrators overnight Saturday for causing a disturbance after they protested Pope Francis’ visit to Israel, at the King David’s Tomb complex in Jerusalem.
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After Shabbat ended, some 150 right-wing activists arrived at the complex and began demonstrating, allegedly attacking police officers with stones and bottles. Some of them entered the compound and barricaded themselves inside.
Police forces evacuated the compound and arrested 26 people for disturbing the peace, including one soldier who allegedly threatened police with his service weapon. A few police officers were slightly injured and one patrol vehicle damaged.
Right-wing activist and attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir – from the Honenu legal aid organization, representing the 26 – claims the police used unnecessary force against the protesters, and that some of them were injured by police violence.
The King David’s Tomb complex has become a flash point for right-wing protests against Pope Francis’ visit to the Holy Land. According to the protesters, Israel and the Vatican are close to signing an agreement that will transfer ownership of the Cenacle (reputedly the sight of Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples), which is situated above David’s Tomb, to the Vatican.
Despite denials by both sides, the protests intensified as the pope’s visit drew nearer.