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Palestinian family in East Jerusalem neighbourhood evicted by Israeli police

Members of the Israeli border police speak with a Palestinian man at the site of a demolished house in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem January 19, 2022. REUTERS/Ammar Awad
Israeli security forces walk at the site of a demolished house in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem January 19, 2022. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

On Wednesday, Israeli police forcibly evicted a Palestinian family from their home in the tense East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, demolishing the structure in a case that has sparked international outrage.

The news: A member of the Salhiyeh family took to the roof of the house two days before the police raid, threatening to blow it up with gas canisters if they were forced out.

  • After the standoff on Monday, police withdrew, but returned before dawn on Wednesday to enforce a court-ordered eviction order of “illegal constructions built on premises designated for a school for children with special needs,” according to a statement.
  • Sheikh Jarrah, a tree-lined neighbourhood with sandstone mansions, foreign consulates, and high-end hotels, has become a symbol of what Palestinians see as an Israeli plot to drive them out of East Jerusalem.
  • Diplomats and human rights groups have been keeping an eye on the family’s situation.
  • Many persons were held for questioning on suspicion of disobeying a court order and disrupting the peace, according to a joint statement with the Jerusalem municipality. According to witnesses, 25 Palestinians were seized, including five family members.
A member of the Israeli border police stands guard at the site of a demolished house in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem January 19, 2022. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

What’s going on: A mechanical digger was used in the demolition, leaving behind a hill of concrete and twisted metal. About a dozen police officers were on the scene to remove gas canisters, with a motorised digger leaving behind a mound of concrete and twisted metal.

  • The site was expropriated by the municipality in a section of East Jerusalem that Israel took and occupied in a 1967 conflict, along with the rest of the city, and later annexed.
  • The house was approximately a kilometre (half mile) north of Jerusalem’s Old City walls, where riots between Palestinians and Jewish settlers erupted last year.

What they’re saying: “I am devastated. You see livelihoods being destroyed in front of your eyes, and now the house is gone,” said one of the activists, who asked not to be identified, and was part of a group that held an overnight vigil in the home and its garden.

  • The house was directly opposite from the British Consulate in East Jerusalem, which declared on Monday that evictions in occupied territory were illegal in all save the most extraordinary situations.
  • It asked Israel’s leadership to “stop such tactics that only serve to exacerbate ground tensions.”
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