Sheikh Jarrah residents bracing for further Israeli violence
Palestinian residents of Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood have been left reeling after Israeli police violently attacked local youth on Tuesday night.
Young people and activists had gathered in Sheikh Jarrah's main street and chanted slogans after the neighbourhood's residents announced their collective refusal of an Israeli deal by which Palestinian residents would pay rent to Israeli settlers in exchange of a ‘protected tenant’ status for 15 years.
The youth gathering was “a peaceful affirmation of the residents’ decision to refuse the Israeli court’s deal”, Alaa Salaymeh, a 25-year-old resident of Sheikh Jarrah told The New Arab.
Israeli police reacted by destroying the neighbourhood's solidarity tent where young people usually gather.
"They forced all solidarity activists out of the neighbourhood and forced us to disperse, beating and pushing,” Salaymeh said.
The police acted violently "because of our refusal and our insistence on our ownership of our homes", Salaymeh said.
"This is why we expect them to become more violent in the future.”
An Israeli settler association claims property of Sheikh Jarrah's land, based on an Israeli law that allows any Jewish Israeli to claim ownership over any property that was owned by Jews before 1948.
Last May, a wave of protests broke out in the Palestinian territories and among Palestinian citizens of Israel against the threatened expulsion of four of the more than 20 families in Sheikh Jarrah.
Locals are uncertain of what the near future holds, said Aref Hammad, a resident of Sheikh Jarrah in his fifties and a member of the neighbourhood council.
“Anything can happen now, from a new court hearing for our appeal against the expulsion orders to immediate expulsion”, Hammad told The New Arab.
Like Salaymeh, Hammad said he expected more Israeli violence.
“More violence on part of the police and the settlers could happen. They try to pressure us into accepting their deal which would make settlers owners of our homes,” he said.
Hammad also affirmed that the Israeli authorities had tried to pressure some families to accept the deal in the past weeks.
“They have been trying to split us for 40 years, but all families in the neighbourhood remained united in their position”.
'Stronger than before'
Sheikh Jarrah's residents have vowed to continue protests and other forms of resistance.
“We will continue to gather in the neighbourhood, chant, protest, celebrate and affirm our presence. We are confident that today, our position is much stronger than before, especially with the worldwide solidarity with Sheikh Jarrah,” she said.
“No matter how far Israeli authorities try to divide families in Sheikh Jarrah, we, the youth, are united on a single position, and that is the absolute rejection of any solution that doesn’t recognise our ownership of our own homes”.