At least 3,000 protesters, including Israelis and Palestinians, have rallied in an Arab quarter of east Jerusalem to protest the eviction of Palestinians from their homes there in favor of Jewish settlers.
The protesters waved red flags bearing the inscription "Shalom," or peace in Hebrew, during the demonstration in Sheikh Jarrah on Saturday.
They chanted slogans such as "No to ethnic cleansing," and "Sheikh Jarrah residents don’t lose hope, we are blocking the road to settlement."
A large Israeli police contingent watched over the demonstration, the largest of its kind for several decades against Jewish settlements in Jerusalem.
Police had intended to ban the gathering, but it was finally approved by the supreme court on an appeal launched by the far-left movement.
The demonstration came amid tensions in the Old City after days of clashes between Israeli riot police and Palestinian protesters in and around the Al-Aqsa mosque and several Arab neighbourhoods of Jerusalem.
Several Palestinian families of Sheikh Jarrah have been expelled in recent months in favour of Israeli settlers on the grounds their houses belonged to Jews before the creation of Israel in 1948.
The evictions led to demonstrations that were put down by the police who arrested Israeli peace activists and pro-Palestinian foreigners.
Israel annexed east Jerusalem after the 1967 Middle East war and built new quarters to house more than 200,000 Israelis.
The annexation has never been recognised by the international community. Palestinians denounce settlements in east Jerusalem, which they want to make the capital of their future state.
In early February, the daily Haaretz revealed Israeli authorities had given the green light to a project to build 600 homes in an area set aside for settlement in the eastern sector.
(Agencies via Aljazeera)