Jerusalem, Jun 10 (EFE).- Fourteen Palestinians were arrested Thursday when they gathered to protest a visit to East Jerusalem’s mainly Muslim Old City by the leader of Israel’s far-right Otzma Yehudit party, police said.
Personnel from the Red Crescent treated 15 other Palestinians for slight injuries after lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir came to the Damascus Gate to denounce authorities for denying him a permit to lead a march through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter to the Temple Mount.
The incident followed weeks of relative calm in East Jerusalem in the wake of the disturbances that led to last month’s violence between the Israeli military and Hamas, the Islamist group that governs Gaza.
Otzma Yehudit and other rightist factions had intended to mount a large mobilization on Thursday to assert Israeli sovereignty over occupied East Jerusalem, but authorities ultimately decided to postpone the event until next week.
The plan drew the ire of the opposition coalition set to be confirmed on Sunday by Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, as the country’s new government, replacing the administration led by long-time Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Members of the prospective government accused the right-wingers of seeking to stir up trouble ahead of the vote in the Knesset.
Ben Gvir and the others wanted another Dance of the Flags, referring to an procession held annually on Jerusalem Day to celebrate the reunification of the city after the 1967 Six-Day War.
The Dance of the Flags took place as scheduled last month, but was interrupted by air-raid sirens amid a volley of Hamas rockets during 11 days of tit-for-tat strikes that claimed nearly 250 lives in Gaza and a dozen more in Israel.
The eruption was spurred by events in East Jerusalem, where Israeli security forces responded to Palestinian protests against plans to evict Arabs from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood by barring Muslims from holding public gatherings in the Old City during the holy month of Ramadan.
As the disturbances grew more intense, Hamas threatened a military response and the first rocket barrage from Gaza came on Monday, May 11, hours after Israeli forces raided Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site.
Israel’s police commander, Kobi Shabtai, blamed provocations by Ben Gvir and his supporters for the unrest in East Jerusalem last month.
Ben Gvir is one of the political heirs of extremist rabbi Meir Kahane (1932-1990), whose Kach party was outlawed in Israel in 1994 for terrorism. EFE