Israel police disperse Palestinian protest over mass eviction in East Jerusalem
Israeli forces dispersed a protest against the eviction of Palestinian residents of the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem and arrested one activist on Sunday evening after an Israeli court set a deadline for the mass eviction of Palestinian families to Thursday.
Israeli forces used tear gas and batons to disperse the crowd protesting in solidarity with Palestinian families facing Israeli eviction orders in Sheikh Jarrah, an area less than a kilometre away from the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.
Since the beginning of 2020, Israeli courts have ordered the eviction of 13 families in Sheikh Jarrah.
On Sunday, Israel’s Supreme Court ordered that the Iskafi, al-Kurd, al-Jaanoi and al-Qassem families - consisting of 30 adults and 10 children - evacuate their homes by 6 May. The court gave the Hammad, al-Dagani and al-Daoudi families living in the same area until 1 August to evacuate.
These Palestinian families live in homes built in Sheikh Jarrah in 1956 with the approval of Jordanian authorities who ruled the West Bank and East Jerusalem until Israel occupied them in June 1967, and the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).
Since Israel seized East Jerusalem in the 1967 war, Israeli settler organisations have claimed ownership of the land in Sheikh Jarrah and have filed multiple successful lawsuits to evict Palestinians from the neighbourhood since 1972.
In 2002, 43 Palestinians were evicted from the area and Israeli settlers took over their properties. In 2008, the Hanoun and Ghawi families were evicted and in 2017 the Shamasneh family was kicked out of their home by Israeli settlers.
In April, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi visited Ramallah in the occupied West Bank to meet Palestinian Authority (PA) officials and hand over documents proving Palestinian ownership of their properties in Sheikh Jarrah, in a bid to prevent a new mass eviction.
"All the documents we hold on property and land in Jerusalem have been passed on to the Palestinian Authority," Safadi said at the time, adding that his government "found the documents proving that the [Jordanian] Ministry of Development that built these houses had in 1956 finalised lease agreements for homes in Sheikh Jarrah."
The evictions come as Jerusalem has seen heightened tensions in recent weeks, with far-right Israelis staging marches calling for "Death to Arabs" amid longstanding efforts by Israeli authorities to expand settlements - which are illegal under international law - in East Jerusalem.