Israeli forces demolish Palestinian house in Sheikh Jarrah, arrest family members

The Salhiya family house was demolished early in the morning of Wednesday by Israeli security forces who also took over 20 people into custody. On Monday, the family members had thwarted a similar attempt by climbing on the roof and threatening to burn it down

January 19, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
Palestinian home demolished in Sheikh Jarrah
(Photo: QNN/Twitter)

In a raid conducted in the early hours of Wednesday, January 19, Israeli security forces demolished the house of a Palestinian family in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem and arrested the family members. The Israeli forces entered the locality at 3:30 am in the morning and arrested five members of Salhiya family, along with 20 other activists sitting on a vigil, before demolishing the house. 

Hundreds of Israeli security forces surrounded the area after the demolition to prevent Palestinians from gathering there. The forceful demolition left 15 family members of Mahmoud Salhiya homeless overnight. 

Hundreds of Palestinians took to social media to express their outrage at the demolition. Several observers and human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, called the act a “war crime.” Scores of Palestinians later tried to salvage the belongings of the family from the debris. 

Ahmad al-Qadmani, the family’s lawyer, was quoted by Middle East Eye as saying that Israeli forces used the silence of the night to demolish the house and attack the family members. Israeli forces even attacked and arrested a nine-year-old girl of the family. 

Qadmani also asserted that the Israeli forces carried out the demolition despite a pending appeal filed yesterday in the Israeli supreme court against a lower court’s judgement. This was in violation of Israeli laws. Additionally, Israel’s public security ministry had claimed on Monday that the Salhiya family’s home is not under any imminent threat of demolition and that only part of a nursery located near the house would be demolished, Mondoweiss reported.  

A previous demolition attempt had been made by the Israeli forces inside the Salhiya house compound on Monday. Mahmoud Salhiya and some of the family members then barricaded themselves on the roof of the house. He threatened to burn himself down along with the house if the demolition was carried out. The Israeli security forces, after failing to disperse the locals after using force, left the locality late in the evening. Hundreds of Palestinians had gathered in solidarity with the family and sat on a vigil. 

Save Sheikh Jarrah 

The Salhiya house was one of the 13 in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood under threat of demolition after an Israeli court asked the Palestinian families to vacate their houses last year. The families refused to leave and a movement was launched to save the Arab neighborhood. The Save Sheikh Jarrah movement was able to garner public support in East Jerusalem and across historical Palestine, leading to widespread demonstrations last year.   

Finally, in October, the Israeli supreme court offered a compromise formula asking the Palestinian families to pay a symbolic rent to Nahalat Shimon, the settler group declared as the owner of the land. The Palestinians have refused to pay this rent. 

The demolition of the Salhiya house was carried out after the Jerusalem municipality, headed by a leader of the settler movement, decided to build a school at the site. Palestinians claim that the demolition is part of the larger Israeli project to Judaize occupied East Jerusalem by forcefully displacing Palestinians and building Jewish settlements instead.

Most of the Palestinian families settled at Sheikh Jarrah are refugees who were forced to flee their homes in historical Palestine due to Israel’s terrorist acts during its creation in 1948, identified as Nakba (great catastrophe) by the Palestinians. They were settled in different parts of the West Bank and East Jerusalem by the UN before 1967 when even these territories came under Israeli control. 

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