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Jerusalem: Israeli forces crush protest against eviction of Palestinian family

The Salem family in East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood is facing imminent eviction on 29 December, following the confiscation of a land plot by settlers
Israeli forces remove a Palestinian protester from a lot, confiscated by Israeli settlers, in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, 17 December 2021 (AFP)

Israeli military police attacked and dispersed a protest held in solidarity with a Palestinian family whose house is under threat of being seized by a settler group in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

A police force dispersed Palestinian and Israeli peace activists following a Friday prayer at a land plot near the house of the Salem family, who face imminent eviction on 29 December.

Earlier this week, a group of 30 settlers had fenced a plot of land near the house, confiscated it and claimed it as their own.

A member of the family, Sabreen Salem, told Middle East Eye that Israeli forces fired tear gas and stun grenades, and pushed activists who came to show solidarity with them on Friday.

Israeli forces have blocked the area and barred people from entering Sheikh Jarrah, a significant flashpoint in East Jerusalem. 

'All of our extended family were here today, almost 30 children, boys and girls, they were terrified and scared'

-Sabreen Salem, Sheikh Jarrah resident

Sabreen, her husband, their six-year-old daughter Fatima and eight other members of her family face the threat of being expelled from their house to make way for an Israeli settler group.

"Palestinians and Israeli peace activits came today in solidarty with us. They sat in a plot belonging to our family, which Israeli settlers are trying to control, they lit fire as the weather is getting cold, but Israeli police attacked them," Sabreen told MEE.

Wafa news agency reported that several Palestinians were bruised and injured as a result of the attack, including journalist Mahmoud Olayan.

Israeli forces also arrested Mohammed Hasan al-Kiswani, 17, and Mohammed Ghtiet, 23, two residents from occupied East Jerusalem. One Israeli policeman was left with a head injury following the confrontation.

Sabreen told MEE that some of the tear gas and stun grenades Israeli forces fired had landed in their house yard. 

"All of our extended family were here today, almost 30 children, boys and girls, they were terrified and scared," Sabreen said. "We are in a difficult situation and Israeli settlers are aiming to take our house and make us homeless on 29 December," she said.

The Salem house is close to Israel's heavily guarded National Insurance Institute and Road 1, which leads to Jerusalem's Old City.

Imminent evictions

Currently, there are 38 Palestinian families living in Sheikh Jarrah, seven of them facing imminent eviction.

Sabreen said that Israeli settlers are trying to find an excuse to mark them out "as terrorists", in order to evict them.

"They always accuse us of burning their cars which are parked in the land plot... their cars were burned seven times in the past few months," she said.

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Sabreen said that their neighbour, a 15-year-old girl from the Hammad family, was recently accused of attempting to stab a 25-year-old Israeli settler in Sheikh Jarrah.

"I don't think she did that," Sabreen said. "Hammad is also facing eviction and I believe the Israeli authorites want to use the alleged stabbing incident as a basis to throw her family out from their house."

Last week, Israeli forces stormed two schools in East Jerusalem and arrested Nifuz Hammad in a classroom, along with another female student, a teacher and the headmistress.

The Hammad family faces an eviction order, which would see them make way for a settler group.

Since the beginning of 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, drawing in Palestinian and anti-occupation Israeli and international activists. 

In May, opposition to Israeli orders to evict Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah escalated into widespread protests in East Jerusalem and across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.