Israeli Police Demolished a Palestinian Family’s Home at 3AM

The Salhiya family were evicted from their home in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem after a standoff that lasted for two days.

Israeli police evicted a Palestinian family from their home in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah and bulldozed it during the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Fifteen people were forcibly removed from the Salhiya family home, before it was demolished with a bulldozer at 3AM in freezing winter temperatures. 

It was the first eviction of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah since 2017. Tensions over evictions in the neighbourhood were at the heart of a conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza last year.

UK and EU diplomats who observed the attempted eviction this week warned that evictions in occupied territory were illegal under international law.

The dispute over the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood has become a symbol of ongoing tensions between Palestinians and the Israeli authorities. The Palestinian families accuse Israeli authorities of pushing them out of their homes.

Israeli forces escort a man away from the ruins of a Palestinian house they demolished. PHOTO: AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images

Earlier in the week, Mahmoud Salhiya, one of the residents, stood on the roof of the property carrying cooking gas canisters and threatened to burn the house with himself in it. “We won’t leave. We’ll either live or die. I’ll burn myself with fuel,” he said.

The Salhiya family lost their legal battle against the Jerusalem municipality last year after the Israeli courts ruled in favour of the argument of the city hall that claimed the Arab family illegally built on a plot of land designated “for a school for children with special needs.” 

Members of the Palestinian Salhiya family sat on the roof of their home earlier this week. PHOTO:AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP

The family was waiting for a ruling on their final appeal, but since the judge did not freeze the eviction order, Israeli police went ahead with the demolition of the house.

It said six nurseries would be built for “the children of the entire Sheikh Jarrah community,” according to a joint statement released by the police and municipality. 

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Israeli police also reported that they arrested 18 people at the scene for “violating a court order, ‘violent entrenchment,’ and violating public order.”

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President, condemned the eviction of the Salhiya family and urged the US to intervene. 

In a statement, he asked the Biden administration to “intervene to stop these continuing Israeli crimes against our people in Jerusalem, specifically in Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, who are subjected to a policy of racial discrimination that the world has never seen the like before." 

The predominantly Palestinian Arab neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah was founded in 1948 following the conflict that led to the foundation of Israel, but was then captured by Israel after the Six-Day War of 1967. 

The 350,000 Palestinians who make up almost half of the population of East Jerusalem rarely engage in the municipal affairs because they consider Israel to be an occupier. 

Tagged:

israel, palestine, middle east, Jerusalem, worldnews

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