Palestinians living in Sheikh Jarrah’s flashpoint neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem say they have been put “under siege” by Israeli authorities.
Israeli police recently blocked the entry of non-residents into the neighborhood, which has been closed, Palestinian resident Abdelfatah Iskafi, 71, told Al Jazeera.
Palestinian residents have limited their movements and are mostly staying at home, as if they leave the neighborhood Israeli authorities will sometimes not allow them to return, claiming they have orders that it is a military zone, Iskafi said.
“Settlers are allowed to move freely. They move in groups of 20-25 together, armed, “Iskafi said, adding that they are mocking and trying to provoke Palestinian residents.
“We don’t sleep at night because we’re worried about what these extremists might do.”
The IOF has officially declared Sheikh Jarrah as a military zone (Palestinians only). Those who managed to get in are expelled. Settlers, on the other hand … you should be able to finish the sentence. #SaveSheikhJarrah pic.twitter.com/PO2qxMyu3z
– mohammed el-kurd (@ m7mdkurd) May 17, 2021
Mass protests against this month’s forced dispossession quickly spread throughout historic Palestine and caught the attention of the international media.
An Israeli crackdown on protesters spread to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, where Israeli security forces stormed the compound numerous times during the holy month of Ramadan, injuring hundreds of Muslim worshipers.
On May 9, under pressure, the Israeli high court delayed the ruling on the expulsion of the four Palestinian families. A new court date will be announced in 30 days, the court said.
But tensions remain high as Israeli fighter jets bomb the besieged Gaza Strip and Palestinian protesters have been shot dead in the occupied West Bank and Israel.
On Sunday, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian driver who crashed his car into a police cut in Sheikh Jarrah, injuring six officers.
Iskafi is from one of the Palestinian families facing deportation and awaiting a final court decision. He said on Sunday night police locked the family in their home all night until the following night.
“They put three to four soldiers at the door of each of our houses to keep us locked inside. Whenever we tried to get out they would tell us, “Stay inside or we’ll beat you.”
There was a big protest on Tuesday against the siege placed on the neighborhood, Said Iskafi.
“The clashes were heavy and at least 36 [Palestinians] they were injured. The same day, as usual, we were protesting peacefully in our neighborhood when the police arrived and beat us.
“It simply came to our notice then. They don’t care, they target anyone, even a 71-year-old man like me, “said Iskafi.
Palestinian writer Moikmed el-Kurd, of Sheikh Jarrah, posted a video and photos on Twitter on Tuesday showing Israeli police spraying streets with “water … an intense chemically manipulated liquid that sticks to the skin during a week if you come into direct contact ”.
The neighborhood now smells of skunk water. This is the car they use to spray protesters: it is an intense chemically manipulated liquid that sticks to the skin for a week if it comes in direct contact. Allergic reactions to skunks have been reported. #SaveSheikhJarrah pic.twitter.com/iMjnBa8Ypr
– mohammed el-kurd (@ m7mdkurd) May 18, 2021
“Suppress Palestinian mobilization”
Israeli NGO Ir Amim said in a statement Wednesday about two weeks ago that Israeli police cordoned off the section of Kerem Al’ajoni, or the eastern part of Sheikh Jarrah, where hundreds of Palestinians threatened with forced eviction live.
A strong presence of police and paramilitary forces blocks access to the area, he said.
From [May 14], the closure has intensified with the entry of supporters of Palestinian residents banned due to “the so-called risk of clashes,” but these restrictions are not imposed on supporters of Jewish settlers living there, Ir Amim said.
“The closure of the neighborhood is seen as a blatant move by the Israeli authorities to suppress the Palestinian mobilization and deprive Sheikh Jarrah’s residents of freedom of expression and the right to protest their forced displacement,” he said.
Palestinian families live within “a cordoned off military zone. They are subject to continued arbitrary harassment and aggressive police measures, marked by forced entry into homes and the use of stun grenades, skunk water and rubber bullets against neighborhood residents.
Police often force residents to stay home and hostilely remove those sitting outside, said Ir Amim, who on Tuesday added a soldier who fired rubber-tipped wheels at a family home, injuring seriously a 15-year-old girl.
The NGO said it sent an urgent letter to police last week demanding that it lift the neighborhood closure and stop “hostile measures leading to a new incitement,” but no response has yet been received.
Palestinian resident Carmel Qasem told Al Jazeera police that he told his family that if they left the neighborhood they would not be allowed to return.
The biggest concern is that the checkpoint will become permanent at the entrance of the neighborhood and the police will continue to conduct “security” checks on residents.
“They come to check our IDs and addresses even when we are next to our own house in the neighborhood,” Qasem said.
“The tension will continue”
While families await the court ruling, Iskafi said his current concern is with far-right “extremists.” entering the neighborhood, with the support of Knesset member Itamar Ben-Gvir and Jerusalem’s deputy mayor, Aryeh King.
“As long as they continue to reach the neighborhood, the tension will continue,” Iskafi said.
Israeli media reported last week, police chief Kobi Shabtai told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Ben-Gvir was responsible for adding fuel to the fire in occupied East Jerusalem, as well as in Israel’s “mixed” cities that go cause riots.
Earlier this month, during a visit to Sheikh Jarrah, king, surrounded by settlers and kahanists, mocked a Palestinian protester who had previously been shot in the lower back, saying “it’s a shame [the bullet] I did not enter here ”- pointing to his forehead.
Last night in Sheikh Jarrah, Jerusalem’s deputy mayor, Aryeh King, was recorded telling Muhammad Abu Hummus, a Palestinian activist in East Jerusalem, that it is a “pity” that no bullets were fired at him. cap.
The fucking mayor of Jerusalem, everyone.
– Edo Konrad (@edokonrad) May 7, 2021
“The world does not listen”
Meanwhile, near Al-Aqsa, it has been quiet since Israeli security forces stormed the site several times during the last week of the holy month of Ramadan, injuring hundreds of Palestinian worshipers.
Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, director of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, told Al Jazeera that Al-Aqsa has suffered damage worth about $ 282,000 due to “excessive force” used by Israeli forces.
Occupation forces broke down the door of a minaret to climb to the top of the mosque, damaged eight windows of the Umayyad period to throw stun grenades and tear gas inside, and damaged all the doors of the mosque. Qibli, said al-Kiswani.
The structures of several buildings on the site need to be replaced. Israeli forces also stormed the athan room (call to prayer) and cut the cables, damaging the sound system, including amplifiers and speakers.
“The courtyard of the mosque was a battlefield; they used rubber bullets, live bullets, stun grenades and tear gas. You can see the shrapnel from his weapons [left behind]Al-Kiswani said.
Dareen Jubeh reported from Sheikh Jarrah