Palestinians protest forceful eviction of families from Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem

An Israeli court ordered at least 13 out of a total of 28 Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah locality to vacate the houses they have been inhabiting for generations to pave the way for the construction of an illegal Jewish settlement

May 03, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Palestinians evicted, East Jerusalem

Israel forcefully evicted Palestinians protesting the displacement of several families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah locality in occupied East Jerusalem after a court order on Sunday, May 2. At least six Palestinian families out of 28 in the locality were asked to vacate their homes after some Jewish organizations filed a case claiming that the land belongs to Jews.

Seven other families in the locality were given time to vacate their homes by August. A total of 87 people, including several children, are set to be displaced by the order. The affected Palestinian families have been living in the Sheikh Jarrah locality for generations.

Palestinians and progressive Israeli groups have been organizing a sit-in in the neighborhood against the order. The Israeli police and security forces attacked them on the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday, injuring many of the protesters. Several illegal settlers tried to intimidate the Palestinians in the locality and carried out demonstrations demanding their eviction.

Meanwhile, Palestinians took to social media with the hashtag #SaveSheikhJarrah to oppose the evictions from the locality, calling it “part of ongoing Nakba and continuous ethnic cleansing.”

Several Palestinian families have been displaced from Sheikh Jarrah since 1972 when some extremist Jewish groups filed cases in the Israeli courts claiming that the land of the locality belongs to Jews. At least 42 Palestinians were evicted in 2002, and a couple more families in 2008 and 2017, despite widespread outrage.  

Most of the Palestinian families settled in Sheikh Jarrah are refugees who left their homes to avoid violence by Israeli terrorist groups during the Nakba in 1948. They were eventually settled in Sheikh Jarrah in 1956.

The current evictions are being carried out despite a 1968 Knesset (Israeli parliament) decree which accepted the refugees’ settlement with the United Nation Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA), under whose mandate these houses were built by the Jordanian state during its control over the territory between 1948 and 1967. Several of the families settled at Sheikh Jarrah had renounced their refugee status in return for permanent resident status.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 and subsequently annexed it. It has carried out large-scale eviction of Palestinians from the city. Israeli authorities regularly destroy Palestinians’ houses and prevent them from building new ones in order to harass them into leaving the city. This is in accordance with Israel’s policy to maintain a “demographic balance” in the city. It has also built scores of illegal settlements in the city housing around 200,000 illegal Jewish settlers living under heavy military protection.  

Activists have argued that as per international law, Israeli courts do not have jurisdiction in  East Jerusalem as it is an occupied territory by Israel. Thus, the eviction order does not have legitimacy, but is a part of Israeli occupation tactics. Last month, at least 191 human rights groups wrote to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to include the evictions at Sheikh Jarrah in its ongoing investigation of war crimes in the occupied territories.

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