Dozens protesting the death of a teenage settler last year clashed with police Thursday night at the entrance to Jerusalem, in the third rally in a week to turn violent.
Ahuvia Sandak, 16, was killed in a car crash while fleeing from police, allegedly after throwing rocks at Palestinians. Repeated protests over Sandak’s death have escalated into violence and arrests.
On Thursday, the clashes began as police attempted to clear far-right protesters trying to block the main entrance to the capital city, briefly leading to the closure of Route 1.
Police arrested six suspects on suspicion of disturbing the peace, and for allegedly throwing rocks and eggs at officers.
Photos of the incident show police using water cannons to clear protesters from the road under the Strings Bridge and uniform and non-uniform officers physically removing some protesters from the scene.
Some protesters could be seen holding a large poster depicting a yellow star, reminiscent of those Nazis forced Jews to wear during World War II, emblazoned with the words “hilltop youth.”
On Saturday night, four cops were wounded and 21 people were arrested at a protest in the same location. And last Thursday, at least 10 protesters were arrested after hurling rocks at police officers and smashing the window of a cop car.
On Satuday, members of the Jewish far-right Lehava group who had been at the protest threatened Palestinian workers at a nearby Jerusalem gas station with physical violence, forcing the employees to barricade themselves in the station’s store.
During the violent clashes with police who were trying to clear roads blocked by the demonstrators, some of the protesters, a number of whom could be seen wearing shirts with the Lehava logo, went to one of the two gas stations located nearby.
Three East Jerusalem Palestinians working at one of the stations were forced to barricade themselves in the store as the Lehava members banged on the windows, swore at them, and gestured their intention to physically assault them, including threatening them with pepper spray.
Police eventually arrived and chased away the protesters, who appeared to be youths. However, an hour later they returned and again tormented the gas station workers, according to Channel 13.
In total, 21 people were arrested during the clashes with police in the main demonstration at the Chords Bridge, which spans the entrance to Jerusalem. Among them was a young woman seen banging on the window of the gas station store while holding pepper spray, the report said.
Four police officers were injured as demonstrators hurled bottles and stones and used pepper spray against them, according to the Israel Police. Two police cars were damaged.
Sandak’s death has sparked clashes between police and protesters over the past year, with the protesters claiming police were responsible for his death and demanding legal action.
Sandak, a resident of the Bat Ayin settlement, was fleeing Border Police in a car with three other youths on December 21, 2020, when the car flipped over, killing him. According to police, Sandak’s group fled from police before losing control of their vehicle. Sandak’s defenders view his death as a police killing; they allege that the police car hit his vehicle from behind, causing it to run off the road.
The far-right legal aid organization Honenu, which is representing those detained, said that police used excessive force, including by firing a water cannon at a girl who was protesting on the street on Friday.
The racist, homophobic Lehava organization and its leader, Benzi Gopstein, were recently revealed to be on a Facebook blacklist of entities banned by the social media giant.
Lehava opposes intermarriage of Jews and non-Jews, as well as LGBT rights, and tries to stifle any public activity by non-Jews in Israel, including coexistence events. There have been a number of efforts in Israel, including ongoing attempts, to have Lehava outlawed as a terrorist organization.