5,000 Arab and Jewish Peace Activists Rally in East Jerusalem against Settlers

Some 5,000 Arab and Jewish peace activists rallied tonight (Saturday, March 6), among them several members of Hadash (the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality – Communist Party of Israel), in the Palestinian Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem in order to protest against the settlement of Jews in the area and the eviction of Arab families from their homes.

The protestors gathered in a soccer field in the neighborhood and waved Israeli and Palestinian flags before marching towards the Tomb of Simon the Just.  A leading member of the Communist Party of Israel MK Dov Khenin noted that “any political agreement will require Jerusalem’s division and these settlements are aimed at preventing peace.”  Protesters carried red banners and Palestinian flags and chanted: “Stop the Destruction of Homes!”  “There Is No Sanctity in an Occupied City!”

For the past six months, a group of Israeli peace activists have demonstrated every Friday in the East Jerusalem neighborhood, protesting the takeover of Palestinian homes by settlers.

Last week, the demonstrators asked the Jerusalem police for permission to hold a large rally in the street leading to a contested house, to protest against the settlers and show solidarity with the Palestinian residents of the neighborhood.  Several Palestinian families of Sheikh Jarrah have been expelled in recent months in favor of Israeli settlers.  The evictions led to demonstrations that were put down by the police, who arrested dozens of Israeli peace activists.

The police refused to authorize the rally and instead approved a much smaller gathering at a soccer field situated 300 meters from the home.  The demonstrators said that the field is surrounded by a wall, cannot be seen from the outside, and is entirely cut off from the area near the contested home, which is the main focus of the protest.

The Supreme Court justices were highly critical of the Jerusalem police decision this week after they refused the request by demonstrators.  “The police are taking the right to demonstrate 30 years backward,” Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch said during deliberations.

For more information about the Communist Party of Israel, visit <www.maki.org.il>.

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