Another Palestinian Family’s Home Destroyed By Israeli Police

Israeli police have forcibly removed a Palestinian family from their home in Sheikh Jarrah, the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood that sparked a multitude of protests and culminated with the Gaza war last May. The Salahiya family has been protecting their home from being destroyed and stolen by the Israeli military for months and fought a legal battle for 5 years to head off their eviction.

They have been unable to prove ownership of the property, but even if they could prove that they own the land, the municipality has the right to expropriate it for public purposes in exchange for monetary compensation.

The police arrived in the early hours of Wednesday and dragged the 15 occupants outside before demolishing their home with a bulldozer.

Yasmin Salhiya, the resident of the house and daughter of the owner Mahmoud Salhiya, said in a social media post that some of the family had been beaten, including her nine-year-old sister, while other neighborhood residents said police used rubber bullets and arrested about 25 people, including five members of the family, reports the Guardian.

The police and Jerusalem municipality have stated that several people were arrested on suspicion of violating a court order and disturbing the peace while reaffirming that they were enforcing a court-approved eviction order of “illegal buildings built on [public space] designated for a school for children with special needs … which can benefit the children of the entire Sheikh Jarrah community.”

Forced evictions

This eviction is the first to be successfully carried out in Sheikh Jarrah since 2017 and has been done after a first attempt earlier this week. On Monday the attempt resulted in clashes between protesters and police and a tense standoff after Mohammed Salhiya took to the roof of the house carrying gas canisters, threatening to set himself and the building on fire if Israeli forces entered.

“We will not flee again. We have nowhere else to go. You expelled us once already in 1948. We either die in our home or we live. We are not leaving,” he said on Tuesday.

200 more families in East Jerusalem are at risk of being displaced because of eviction orders while there are around 200,000 Jewish settlers living in the area.

The reasons behind the evictions can range from Jewish Israelis claiming the land they say was illegally taken during the war that coincided with Israel’s founding in 1948 to the municipality justifying the demolitions on the basis of building schools or stating that the families do not have the legal permits to build and reside there. To the first claim, Palestinian residents say that the land was guaranteed to them by Jordan in exchange for giving up their refugee status before Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967.

According to the UN, the rate of Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem increased by 21% in 2021 compared with the previous year. Back in July, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, Michael Lynk, condemned the demolition by Israel of the homes and property belonging to the Palestinian Bedouin community of Humsa al-Baqai’a, in the northern Jordan Valley of the occupied West Bank.

11 households – comprising around 70 people, including 35 children – were displaced and 27 residential shelters, animal structures and water tanks were demolished.

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