Jerusalem Police Hurl Flashbangs at Palestinians Protesting Far-right Lawmaker's Visit

Itamar Ben-Gvir arrived at Jerusalem's Old City to challenge a decision by Israeli authorities barring him from the Temple Mount. When protesters waved Palestinian flags, police forcibly dispersed them

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Israeli lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir outside Damascus Gate, on Thursday.
Israeli lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir outside Damascus Gate, on Thursday.Credit: Emil Salman

Israeli police on Thursday used stun grenades to disperse a crowd of several hundred Palestinians who gathered near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City to protest against far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir.

The Kahanist lawmaker from Bezalel Smotrich's Religious Zionism party had arrived at the Old City to challenge a decision by Israeli authorities preventing him from marching through the Muslim Quarter and visiting the Temple Mount.

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Police disperse protesters after they wave Palestinian flagsCredit: Yanal Jbareen

The protesters waved flags and chanted slogans against Ben-Gvir. After several protesters hoisted Palestinian flags, police threw stun grenades at them.

Itamar Ben-Gvir near Damascus Gate, on Thursday.Credit: Yanal Jbareen

According to the police, at least 14 Palestinian protesters were detained. Three of them are suspected of attacking jouranlists who were at the scene. 

Police detain a Palestinian protester outside Damascus Gate, Jerusalem, on Thursday.Credit: Emil Salman

At Damascus Gate, Ben-Gvir said: "I came here [to protest] against a decision by a failed police commissioner and against the disgrace that a Knesset member can't march here."

Meanwhile, Hamas military wing spokesman  Abu Ubaida, said the organization was closely watching events in Jerusalem and what it termed attempts at provocation by radical settlers. 

Khalil al-Hayya, deputy chief of the Hamas politburo, also warned that the cease-fire reached last month could crumble "if the settlers' radicalization isn't curbed.

"We won't wait long for Israel to open the border crossings and to allow the entry of the Qatari aid," he added.

Israel’s Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai, in an unprecedented decision, banned on Wednesday Ben-Gvir and fellow right-wing MK May Golan from marching at the Damascus Gate in East Jerusalem on Thursday with the planned Flag March.

According to the commissioner, the Knesset members' presence would be liable to incite riots. The commissioner also decided to ban Ben-Gvir from entering the Temple Mount, or Haram al-Sharif as it’s known to Muslims, on Wednesday and Thursday.

On Thursday morning, Ben-Gvir petitioned the Supreme Court to revoke the decision, saying the police commissioner had no authority to bar him from the Temple Mount. But the court dismissed the petition, saying the timeframe was too short to make an informed ruling on the matter.

Ben-Gvir's protest followed a cabinet decision to postpone the Flag March through Jerusalem, initially planned for Thursday but canceled after police said they wouldn’t allow it to pass through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter, citing security concerns.

The march is now set to take place on Tuesday, but the cabinet has yet to decide on an alternate route. The police have drafted an outline that would bypass the flash points in the Muslim Quarter. One option under examination is re-routing the march through Jaffa Gate, from which it will continue to the Western Wall.

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