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Fourteen Palestinians Arrested After Israeli MP's Rally

Fourteen Palestinians Arrested After Israeli MP's Rally

Friday, 11 June, 2021 - 05:30
Itamar Ben-Gvir, member of Israel's parliament and head of the one-man far right "Jewish Power" party, has been accused of stirring unrest in Jerusalem - AFP

Fourteen Palestinians were arrested on Thursday in Jerusalem after disturbances following a press conference by an extreme right-wing Israeli MP denouncing restrictions on a controversial march, police said.


Israeli nationalists had been due to hold the March of the Flags on Thursday, processing through flashpoint areas of east Jerusalem that have seen repeated clashes in recent months between Israeli security forces and Palestinians.


Israeli authorities have said the march can go ahead next week if the route is changed.


Scuffles flared Thursday after Itamar Ben-Gvir, accused by police of stirring unrest in Jerusalem, spoke outside the Old City's Damascus Gate, the site of clashes last month between Palestinians and Israeli security forces.


"The police dispersed hundreds of demonstrators at the Damascus gate, some of them having caused disturbances to public order," a police statement read, AFP reported.


Police had barred Ben-Gvir from going to the Old Town.


"Deciding that an Israeli MP cannot roam free in the Old City of Jerusalem is offering Hamas a victory," Ben-Gvir said, surrounded by bodyguards and holding an Israeli flag in his hands.


Right-wing organizers had described the march as a routine demonstration of free expression, but many critics feared it could set a match to already bubbling tensions.


The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas said the march would spark new violence.


Ben Gvir's speech came exactly a month after Hamas launched volleys of rockets towards Israel in "solidarity" with Palestinians in annexed east Jerusalem, sparking a deadly 11-day conflict.


That followed days of clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians angered by a years-long bid by Jewish settlers to seize Arab homes.


The protests had culminated in Israeli forces storming the highly sensitive Al-Aqsa mosque compound, sacred to Muslims and Jews.


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