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Police brace for tense Friday after 18 arrested in overnight Jerusalem riots

Palestinian groups declare ‘day of rage’ amid simmering violence in East Jerusalem; both Arabs and Jews detained after clashes in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood

Police forces operate in East Jerusalem, October 13, 2022. (Israel Police)
Police forces operate in East Jerusalem, October 13, 2022. (Israel Police)

Police on Friday announced the arrest of 18 people after overnight clashes in several areas of East Jerusalem, including the flashpoint Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

Palestinian groups have declared Friday a “day of rage,” encouraging the city’s residents to confront security forces in response to the ongoing police operation in East Jerusalem’s Shuafat refugee camp.

For much of the past week, security forces heavily restricted entry and exit from Shuafat amid suspicions that the gunman who killed a soldier at a nearby checkpoint last week was hiding out there.

On Thursday night, rioters in the Shuafat neighborhood — which is separated from the refugee camp — fired fireworks and threw rocks at the Jerusalem light rail, which passes through predominantly Palestinian parts of East Jerusalem as it traverses the city.

In Sheikh Jarrah, violence erupted after a rock was thrown at a Jewish-owned home, moderately injuring a 17-year-old.

Jewish youths attacked Palestinian property and vehicles in response. Far-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir, who arrived on the scene, was seen brandishing his pistol as he urged police to fire on Arab stone-throwers.

Police arrested 11 people, both Arabs and Jews, during the clashes for disturbing the peace.

Video on social media also showed police entering the house of Jewish resident Tal Yoshvayev, as some of the rock throwers reportedly used his home as a base. Yoshvayev was not arrested.

Police chief Kobi Shabtai toured the area and praised security forces for “standing on the front line, protecting citizens with their bodies, with determination and bravery, working around the clock against all the challenges.”

“Police will continue to act with determination and with all means at their disposal against violent perpetrators, those who disturb the peace and those who attempt to hurt civilians or security forces in East Jerusalem,” he said in a police statement.

The security establishment opted against restricting access to the Temple Mount for Friday prayers despite the escalating tensions in Jerusalem, with the Kan public broadcaster citing fears that capping the number of Muslim worshippers could attract more rioting.

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion denied Jerusalem was “burning” and stressed Sukkot festivities had not been impacted by the violence.

“The residents of East Jerusalem are an inseparable part of this city. Yes, it’s true that there is a minority that occasionally raises the temperature. I am not here to convince people that there isn’t violence in specific sections, but to say that Jerusalem is burning? Absolutely not,” he told Army Radio.

One of the city’s deputy mayors, far-right politician Aryeh King, urged Jerusalem residents to protect homes under attack on Thursday night, offering to put volunteers in direct contact with those responsible for each neighborhood’s security. King is the founder of the Israel Land Foundation, which seeks to promote Jewish residency in East Jerusalem.

Amid the current violence, police on Thursday announced the deployment of two police reserve units to the streets of Jerusalem, with two additional units deployed around the city’s outskirts.

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