Since the start of May, the Israeli occupation authorities have intensified its prolonged violent assault on Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, Occupied Jerusalem. Amid this tremendous Israeli violence against the families of Sheikh Jarrah and their supporters from other areas in Jerusalem, Palestinians assert that the ethnic cleansing of Sheikh Jarrah is no longer looming; rather, it is happening now!
The scenes of heavily armed Israeli gangs beating, humiliating, arresting and storming Palestinian houses in Sheikh Jarrah, which go viral on social media every night, come in response to more Palestinian protests against the ethnic cleansing of Sheikh Jarrah. This brutal campaign is being carried out by the different layers entrenching Israeli apartheid system: Armed Israeli soldiers, discriminatory laws, Israeli courts and bigoted Jewish settlers whose motto is: “Death to Arabs.”
Israeli courts: An apparatus of Israeli ethnic cleansing campaign
Palestinian protest of the ethnic cleansing of Sheikh Jarrah follows a hearing at Israeli Supreme Court on Sunday, 2 May, 2021. At the hearing, the six families, numbering about 27 people, that put forward an appeal against their forcible eviction were ordered by the court to “reach some deal with the settlers claiming ownership of their homes.”
According to the court, this ’deal’ has to include that the Palestinian families admit that the settlers own their houses. Thus, to stay in their homes, the families should negotiate with the settlers on starting to pay rents to them.
Sari, a Palestinian activist from Jerusalem asserted that “the court order was a proposal the settlers submitted to the court before.” He added that “if Palestinians accept this unjust proposal, there is no guarantee that the court in the next hearing would adapt it as a decision. Rather, the court is expected to reject it once it is accepted by Palestinians.”
However, the families categorically rejected the court order as this is yet another way to trample on their right to their homes the settlers try to steal from them.
Moreover, commenting on the court’s order, the families released a statement on social media:
“The inherently unjust system of Israel’s colonial courts is not considering questioning the illegal settler’s ownership and has already decided on the families’ dispossession.
This pattern of elongating the legal process is common practice to dull popular resistance and public opinion protesting these expansionist and colonial efforts.
As the threat of expulsion from our home remains imminent as ever, we will continue our international campaign to stop this ethnic cleansing,”
At Sunday’s hearing, the court decided to postpone the ruling on the appeal until tomorrow, Thursday, May 6.
The six families under immediate expulsion, where the ruling on their appeal might take place at tomorrow’s hearing are not alone in this battle. Seven other families await a similar fate in August 1st following the ruling of the Israeli Supreme court earlier this year.
These families have been embattled in a legal dispute with Israeli settlers since decades after Israeli settlers backed by the Israeli government started a vigorous campaign to falsely claim ownership of 28 Palestinian families.
This campaign of ethnic cleansing dates back to 1972 when the Sephardic Community Committee and the Knesset Yisrael Committee, two bigoted settler organizations started the fabrication of documents claiming that the 28 Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah live there illegally.
Please read our previous report about the legal battle of Sheikh Jarrah and more here.
To read more about the struggle of Sheikh Jarrah, see the letter calling on the ICC to save Sheikh Jarrah here.
Relentless attempts to eliminate Palestinian presence
So far, the fanatic settler groups have succeeded in ethnically cleansing more than 67 Palestinians.
In addition to the ethnic cleansing campaign of Sheikh Jarrah, the Israeli occupation authorities is preparing another one to expel Palestinian families in Al-Bustan neighborhood in Silwan, Occupied Jerusalem.
Both Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan enjoy a strategic location. By ethnically cleansing these two areas, the apartheid regime of Israel can easily obliterate Palestinian identity of Jerusalem and ghettoize its Palestinian inhabitants more. Reflecting on this, Sari stated:
“By ethnically cleansing Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan from their Palestinian inhabitants in favor of Jewish settlers, the Israeli occupation seeks to Judaize Jerusalem.
The plan is to turn the areas to ‘street museums’, divided into tourist, archeological and religious places for Jews encircling the Old City of Jerusalem.”
Sari believes that the Israeli set restrictions on Palestinian presence in and access to Damascus Gate, one of the main gates leading to the walled Old City of Jerusalem where Muslim and Christian religious sites are located, at the start of Ramadan, “are not separated from what we witness in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan.” He explained, “there are relentless Israeli efforts to evict Palestinians and obliterate their presence in all the areas around or leading to the Old City of Jerusalem.”
Nonetheless, after enduring Israeli brutality, Palestinian protestors in Jerusalem succeeded in removing the metal barriers set at Damascus Gate plaza on 25 April.
Currently, Sheikh Jarrah is the battle ground, where hundreds of Palestinians have been organizing sit-in tents and Iftar (breakfast in Ramadan) events in order to emphasize Palestinian presence in the area, as well as to strengthen the steadfastness of threatened families. Their motto of sumud [steadfastness] is: “Our homeland is a heaven, may God protect you… oh dear homeland, even your inferno is a paradise!”