Sheikh Jarrah: Israeli settlers seize and fence off land plot in East Jerusalem neighbourhood

Jewish settlers install a fence while seizing land in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem (Supplied)

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  January 21, 2022

The area is on high alert following the demolition of a Palestinian house north of the neighbourhood, which has been widely condemned.

Jewish settlers seized a land plot in occupied East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood on Friday, accompanied by police and the deputy mayor of Jerusalem municipality.

The settlers set up fences around the land that the Palestinian Salem family in Sheikh Jarrah said belonged to them.

Local media reported that Israeli police pushed locals and attacked protesters. A Palestinian woman from the Salem family claimed to have suffered a broken arm after Arieh King, the deputy mayor of Jerusalem municipality, attacked her.

The area has been on high alert over the past week, following the demolition of a Palestinian house north of the neighbourhood, which has been widely condemned.

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.

On Friday, settlers claimed ownership of the land and the Salem family’s house. The Nahalat Shimon settler group had been active in pursuing eviction orders issued by Israeli courts against Palestinian families.

Nahalat Shimon is the Hebrew name of Sheikh Jarrah. Settlers say that Jewish families lived in the area before 1917, and that the properties belong to them.

Fatima Salem, 73, said she had been living in the house in Sheikh Jarrah with her son and daughter and their families for decades. In 1988 they were ordered by an Israeli court to vacate their property but froze the decision that year. In 2015, the Israeli court reactivated the eviction orders for the house.

She told Middle East Eye that settlers had beaten her son, Ibrahim, and shoved her while they tried to face them on Friday morning. The Salems were woken up by the neighbours on their day off, to see settlers busy fencing the land.

“The Israeli police were standing and did not stop [it]. They were standing with the settlers against us and let them fence it, and then attacked us, my son and I was shoved pushed from my chair,” she said.

Fatima added that King, who is pro-settlement, told them that the house and land belong to the settlers.

“They told us that they will take the house from us. This is injustice, I say this to all the world. They evicted the Salhiya family and demolished their home and now it’s our turn. All of [Palestinians] in Sheikh Jarrah will be evicted,” Fatima told MEE.

“Only God can beat them, but we will not leave the house, this is our life, our memories, let them shoot us inside, we will not leave.”

Wafa news agency reported that Israeli settlers had uprooted several trees on the land in the past week, and fenced it. The families removed the fence afterwards.

Currently, 37 Palestinian families live in Sheikh Jarrah, six of them facing imminent eviction. Since 2020, Israeli courts have ordered the eviction of 13 Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah.

The area became a focal point of protest and sit-in solidarity activities last year, drawing in Palestinian and anti-occupation Israeli and international activists.