Sheikh Jarrah: Israeli forces attempt to evict Palestinian family to build a school

Mustafa Abu Sneineh

Middle East Eye  /  January 17, 2022

Members of the Salhiya family barricaded themselves on the roof in protest against the evacuation of the 40 people who live on the property.

Israeli authorities on Monday attempted to evict three Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem to build a school on the land.

Dozens of Israeli police officers stormed the home of members of the Salhiya family, ordering the 40 people living on the property to evacuate.

Some family members refused to obey the Israeli police order and barricaded themselves on the roof with a gas canister, while a team of Israeli negotiators attempted to convince them to come down.

Israeli media reported that Mahmoud Salhiya had threatened to set himself on fire if the eviction order was carried out. 

“We’ve been in this home since the 1950s,” said Salhiya family member Abdallah Ikermawi from the roof of the home.

“We don’t have anywhere to go,” he said in quotes provided by the Sheikh Jarrah Committee organization.

Sheikh Jarrah has been a significant flashpoint over the past year, after Israel tried to expel Palestinian families from the area last May to make way for Israeli settlers.

The events had led to widespread protests in the occupied West Bank and Israel’s mixed cities of Arabs and Jews, and a large-scale military operation in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces on Monday prevented activists from entering the area, located north of Jerusalem’s Old City, leaving the Salhiyas to face the eviction order alone.

Israel’s Jerusalem municipality said that the land on which the Salhiya home is standing had belonged to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Amin al-Husseini, which Israel expropriated after it captured the city in 1967.

Mahmoud Salhiya said that his family was expelled from Ein Karm village in West Jerusalem in 1948, and lived in the area during the Jordan rule, which lasted until 1967.

The family built a house on six dunams, where members of the family currently live, and it has an extension that was turned into a plant nursery to support them financially. 

The family has been facing eviction since 2017, when their land was allocated for school construction, following 23 years in courts against the Israeli government, which issued an ultimatum in December for evaluation on 25 January.

“Why do they evict us from our homes just to hand it to settlers? And why do they confiscate our lands under the excuse of building schools?… I will not get out of my house,” Salhiya told local media.

Mustafa Abu Sneineh – journalist, poet and staff writer at Middle East Eye