Palestinians protest Sheikh Jarrah evictions in Jerusalem, Israel forces disperse demonstrators

Palestinians protest Sheikh Jarrah evictions in Jerusalem, Israel forces disperse demonstrators
3 min read
19 February, 2022
Israeli forces forcibly dispersed Palestinians in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank as they demonstrated against evictions in Sheikh Jarrah.
Demonstrators had poured into Sheikh Jarrah to support Palestinians facing eviction by settlers [Getty]

Israeli occupation forces on horseback dispersed protesters Friday in the flashpoint East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where demonstrators poured in to support Palestinians facing eviction by Jewish settlers.

The scuffles there came alongside protests elsewhere in the occupied West Bank.

Tensions that erupted in Sheikh Jarrah last year - as several Palestinian families faced eviction by settler groups - in part triggered Israel's May assault on the besieged Gaza Strip.

In Jerusalem, Palestinian men laid prayer rugs on the asphalt of a local street and carried out Islamic prayers. Later, hundreds of activists joined them to protest the looming evictions.

AFP reporters observed Israeli forces charging the protesters with horses after the activists refused to clear a road. Police described the incident as a "riot" and said "demonstrators did not listen to instructions of police".

An AFP photographer saw two people being detained. However, police claim no arrests were reported.

Sheikh Jarrah has emerged as a symbol of Palestinian resistance against Israeli control of East Jerusalem.

Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it, in a move not recognised by most of the international community. More than 200,000 Jewish settlers live in East Jerusalem, which Palestinians claim as the capital of their future state.

Abdallah Grifat, 30, said he travelled from Nazareth in northern Israel to show his support.

"It's my duty as a Palestinian to stand here, with every other Palestinian who's struggling for their land," he told AFP. "We're standing for justice."

The Salem family

Palestinians also confronted Israeli forces in Hebron - in the southern West Bank - and in the northern West Bank's Beita.

In Beita, residents opposed to an Israeli outpost erected on village land used slingshots to throw rocks at occupation forces who responded with what the army called "riot dispersal means."

The army said no troops were injured. Palestinians' official news agency Wafa said 23 Palestinians were hurt. An AFP photographer was wounded by a rubber bullet fired by Israeli forces.

The confrontations in Sheikh Jarrah come amid growing focus on one family, named Salem, who face imminent eviction.

Earlier in the week, clashes broke out when far-right Israeli lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir opened a tent "office" near the family's house after an alleged Palestinian arson of a settler's home nearby.

The United Nations said its personnel visited the Salem family on Friday, adding that it "has repeatedly called for a halt to forced evictions and demolitions in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem."

Palestinian presidency spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said via Wafa that "Israeli assaults" in Sheikh Jarrah "will not deter our people from achieving their goal of establishing their independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital."

Hamas, the Islamic movement which controls the besieged Gaza Strip, warned on Thursday that "violation of the red lines in Sheikh Jarrah" could "prepare the atmosphere for the next explosion."