Palestinians vow to save Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood

Al-Jazeera  /  May 5, 2021

Palestinians continue solidarity protests against forced displacement of families from the occupied East Jerusalem.


Israeli forces raided the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem for the second night on Tuesday, spraying skunk water, a chemically enhanced type of sewage water, and physically assaulting residents and solidarity protesters.

Several Palestinians were arrested, including Tala Obeid, Omar al-Khatib and Mahmoud Nabil al-Kurd, whose families face displacement from their homes in occupied East Jerusalem. Al-Kurd along with another Palestinian was released on Wednesday morning, but the detention of Al-Khatib, a local activist, has been extended.

Palestinians have been protesting against the forced displacement of people in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood following an Israeli court order. The Israeli district court in East Jerusalem approved a decision to vacate six Palestinian families from their homes in May in favour of Israeli settlers. The same court ruled that another seven families in Sheikh Jarrah are to leave their homes by August 1.

Palestinians fear it is part of an ongoing effort by Israeli settlers to take control of Palestinian homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.

video showing a settler attempting to take over a Palestinian home in Sheikh Jarrah on Saturday has further caused outrage.

On Monday, at least 20 Palestinians were injured in a brawl after Israeli police stormed a solidarity demonstration with the residents of Sheikh Jarrah, which Israel conquered in 1967 and annexed in a move not recognised by most of the international community.

Since 1956, a total of 37 Palestinian families have been living in 27 homes in the neighbourhood – including 28 refugee families who were ethnically cleansed from their homes in Jaffa and Haifa in 1948.

However, illegal Jewish settlers have been trying to push them out on the basis of a law approved by the Israeli parliament in 1970.

Sheikh Jarrah is a short walk from the Old City’s Damascus Gate, a plaza popular with Palestinians especially during the fasting month of Ramadan. The latest protests follow days of demonstrations after Israeli police blocked the plaza and a far-right Israeli group marched in the areas chanting “death to Arabs”.

Police quelled those protests with stun grenades, water cannons and skunk water before ultimately removing the barriers.