Israeli settlers attack Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah after far-right Israeli lawmaker vows to open office in neighbourhood
At least two people were injured and six arrested during clashes between local Palestinians and Israeli settlers in the flashpoint East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Violence broke out after far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir’s said he will open an office in the neighbourhood, The New Arab's Arabic-language edition Al-Araby Al-Jadeed has reported.
Ben-Gvir, an ultra-nationalist and a prominent figure in the extremist political party Otzma Yehudit, claimed "We [Israelis] are the landlords", threatening to respond "to terror with terror".
Mahmoud Al-Hajj, a witness, told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that around 70 settlers stormed the neighbourhood, where they attacked residents with stones and pepper spray, injuring dozens.
"Occupation police forces stormed the neighbourhood also began to attack people who came to defend themselves. [They] fired stun grenades at them, closed the entrances to the neighbourhood and prevented residents [from outside the area]," Al-Hajj added.
Settlers also attacked vehicles belonging to people living in Sheikh Jarrah.
Ben-Gvir claimed that opening a parliamentary office in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood will offer "protection to settlers".
He attempted to open a makeshift office in May last year, which was shut down as tensions intensified when Israel’s Supreme Court announced its plan to forcibly evict dozens of Palestinian families from their homes.
Eyewitnesses told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that a settler was allegedly injured by a car on Sunday morning. The driver said he lost control of the car because he was attacked with pepper spray by the settlers.
Israeli forces also arrested six people altogether, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz.
Muhammad Hamadeh, the spokesperson for the Gaza-based Hamas, issued a statement describing the settlers’ attacks as "playing with a fire" and a "blatant aggression" against locals.