Religious Zionist Party MK Itamar BenGvir set up a makeshift office, a table under an awning, in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood that is already tense over Israeli eviction of Palestinian families.
Far-right Israeli MK Itamar BenGvir has set up a makeshift office in Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem.
Scuffles broke out on Sunday as BenGvir, leader of the far-right Religious Zionism alliance, sat at a table under an awning in Sheikh Jarrah in what he described as "an effort to show support for its Jewish residents."
The Palestinian Authority, based in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, condemned BenGvir's visit as a "provocative and escalating move that threatens to ignite... violence that will be difficult to control."
A Jewish nationalist with a long history of incendiary comments about Palestinians, BenGvir accused police of failing to react to alleged arson attacks on a settler home in Sheikh Jarrah.
The lawmaker had moved his office to the neighbourhood in May 2021 but was prevented from going to the area by the Israeli government over fears of escalation amid tensions with Palestinians over home evictions.
Israeli far-right MP Itamar Ben-Gvir has provoked Palestinians by setting up a tent in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem.— TRT World (@trtworld) February 13, 2022
Ben-Gvir reportedly plans to reopen an office on land belonging to the Salim family who are facing imminent expulsion pic.twitter.com/F789ZUQZvv
'Playing with fire'
Meanwhile, several Palestinians were injured late on Saturday when Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian homes in the neighbourhood.
Palestinian resistance group Hamas on Sunday condemned the attacks on Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah.
In a statement, group spokesman Mohammad Hamada termed settler violence as “blatant aggression and playing with fire.”
TODAY: Dozens of Israeli settlers, accompanied by Israeli armed forces, broke into lands belonging to the Salim family in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem. They proceeded to attack local residents in an attempt to intimidate and displace them. #DefundRacism pic.twitter.com/NKGxNbulUg— Good Shepherd Collective (@Shepherds4Good) February 13, 2022
In 1956, 28 families settled in Sheikh Jarrah under an agreement with the Jordanian government, which ruled the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, before the Israeli occupation in 1967, and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
Israeli settlement associations, however, claim that the homes were built on land that was owned by Jews before 1948, a claim vehemently rejected by Palestinians
Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it, in a move not recognised by most of the international community.
More than 200,000 Jewish settlers live in occupied East Jerusalem, in communities regarded as illegal under international law.
Efforts by settler groups to expand the Jewish presence in east Jerusalem, which Palestinians claim as their future capital, have further fuelled hostilities. In the past year, tensions ran high in Sheikh Jarrah after an Israeli court ordered the eviction of several Palestinian families in favor of Israeli settlers.