March Through Silwan Draws Violent Counter Protest, but Not Many Rightists

Right-wing activists marched through the Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan yesterday, though they only drew 30 people to rally support for contested East Jerusalem area.

Police had authorized a 70 person demonstration to take place in what was expected to be a tense confrontation with the local residents opposed to the march.

Locals took to the streets, raised Palestinian flags and threw shoes onto the pavement in protest. Dozens of masked youth lit tires and threw stones at police, while yelling anti-Israel slogans.

Two firebombs were thrown at the right-wing activists as the march began and two police officers were lightly injured by stones.

Tensions began to rise during the early morning hours in Silwan, with a large police force raiding the al-Bustan neighborhood, which houses illegally built homes and whose residents are considered to be particularly politically active.

A police helicopter and a zeppelin flew overhead, filming, while a police vehicle for countering demonstrations was parked on site. Four neighborhood residents, known by police to be activist leaders, were arrested at their homes. A little while later, Hatem Abdul-Qader, who holds the Jerusalem portfolio at the Palestinian Authority, was also arrested.

Meanwhile, another police force deployed to separate right-wing activists, including Itamar Ben Gvir and Baruch Marzel, from dozens of left-wing demonstrators and local Palestinians. An hour before the march there were violent clashes between police and Palestinians.

At the conclusion of the march Ben Gvir said that "we sent Netanyahu, Obama, Mitchell a message on who is the boss in Jerusalem. We took a small, first step, but we will act until the state prosecution orders the illegal homes in Silwan razed and the racist policy, which allows the razing of Jewish homes but not Arab homes, is brought to an end."