Sheikh Jarrah checkpoints 'removed' as Israelis arrest four

Sheikh Jarrah checkpoints 'removed' as Israelis arrest four Palestinians in East Jerusalem neighbourhood
2 min read
30 June, 2021
The removal of checkpoints in Sheikh Jarrah effectively ends restrictions on people entering the neighbourhood from outside.
Sheikh Jarrah families are under threat of expulsion in favour of settler groups [AFP/Getty]

Checkpoints blocking access to the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem were removed by Israeli police on Tuesday.

The surprise move effectively ends a prohibition on non-residents entering the area.

The restrictions came into effect in mid-May, however Israeli group Ir Amim, which works on Jerusalem issues, explained that one segment of the neighbourhood has been closed in some format since around two weeks prior.

At that time, the Israelis were reinforcing their presence in Sheikh Jarrah, where many Palestinian families are facing expulsion from their homes to make way for Israeli settlers.

The restrictions came into effect in mid-May, however Israeli group Ir Amim, which works on Jerusalem issues, explained that one segment of the neighbourhood has been closed for the past two weeks.

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The checkpoints meant that reporters and locals were the only non-residents permitted access to Sheikh Jarrah.

In May, a Sheikh Jarrah checkpoint was hit by a car, which left seven Israeli police injured with concrete barriers installed at the site after the incident.

Israel said the barriers will remain in place, although officers stationed there have been sent to other areas due to "operational concerns", according to police.

Activist Mohammad Sabah explained that Israeli forces want to pretend life in Sheikh Jarrah "is normal" and that the dismantling of the barriers coincided with a visit by an American diplomat to the area. 

Some locals fear there will be a pick-up in violence from settlers with the police gone and that the barriers will be re-erected after the diplomat's visit.

Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem: A history of dispossession
Click here to enlarge image (May 2021)

Salah Diab noted: "If we protect ourselves we will be arrested, we need protection."

Meanwhile, Israeli state broadcaster Kan said four Palestinian teenagers were arrested in Sheikh Jarrah after allegedly setting off fireworks at Israeli police.

This comes as the Silwan neighbourhood, also in occupied East Jerusalem, saw Israeli forces level a shop.

Another 1,500 Palestinians in the area are at risk of seeing their homes demolished.