Israeli settlers seized a land plot in occupied East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood on Friday, accompanied by police and the deputy mayor of Jerusalem municipality.
The settlers set up fences around the land that the Palestinian Salem family in Sheikh Jarrah said belonged to them.
Local media reported that Israeli police pushed locals and attacked protesters. A Palestinian woman from the Salem family claimed to have suffered a broken arm after Arieh King, the deputy mayor of Jerusalem municipality,attacked her.
At 3am last night, Israeli security forces raided the Salhiya family house in Sheikh Jarrah, arresting and injuring multiple family members. After the family – who have lived in the house since 1956 – refused to be expelled, Israeli troops barricaded then stormed their home. By dawn, only the rubble remained.
Over 1500 Palestinians currently live under the threat of home demolitions in occupied Jerusalem. In May of last year, Sheikh Jarrah was the flashpoint from which began the most significant period of protest in Palestine for a generation, now known as the Unity Intifada.
Israel believes that now, whilst the world’s attention is turned away, it can expel the Sheikh Jarrah families one by one. But Palestinians are coming together to resist this threat of ethnic cleansing, just as they did last May.
We must support their grassroots resistance by demanding our own Governments hold Israel accountable for its actions that amount to the crime of apartheid. It’s time to mobilise for Palestine once more. In addition to the emergency protest taking place on Friday, we have organised a Twitterstorm.
The remains of the Salhiyeh family home that was demolished by Israeli authorities, in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, January 19, 2022. (Jamal Awad/Flash90)
Israeli security forces demolished the home of the Salhiyeh family and forcibly expelled its residents in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah during the early hours of the morning on Wednesday.
Police raided the house around 3:15 a.m., violently kicking out the family and activists who had arrived to defend the family home. According to Palestinian and Israeli activists who were at the scene, officers cut electricity to the house, before using stun grenades and arresting 18 people, including members of the Salhiyeh family, Palestinian activists, and five Israeli activists. All of the Israeli activists and some of the Palestinians have been released, while others remain in Israeli custody — including Mahmoud, the family’s father.
Following the expulsion, bulldozers entered and destroyed the family home, where Lital Salhiyeh, her husband Mahmoud, their four children, and Mahmoud’s mother lived. The remains of the home and the family’s belongings, which included photo albums and children’s backpacks, laid strewn out in the rubble.
“All of a sudden we heard booms. I jumped out of bed and turned on the light — but there was no electricity in the house,” Lital told me following the demolition. “I lifted my head, and all I saw around me was hundreds of lights from helmets. It was a terrifying sight.”
Lital, an Israeli Jew who is originally from Rishon LeZion, said she had gone to bed half an hour before police forces burst into her home. Once she heard the booms, she jumped out of bed and began to run. “I was looking for my little daughter Aya, who’s nine years old and was sleeping in the other room with her aunt. I wanted to get to her. A policeman caught me and said, ‘What are you doing?’”
In this episode of Occupied Thoughts, FMEP's Sarah Anne Minkin speaks with activist and author Ali Awad about the threats of dispossession and state-backed settler violence facing Palestinians in the Masafer Yatta area of the South Hebron Hills.
Ali's most recent article, co-authored with Awdah Hathaleen, describes extreme violence against a village elder in a non-violent protest in Masafer Yatta: "Israeli police shattered this Palestinian elder’s bones — and drove away."
Ali Awad is an activist from the village of Tuba in the South Hebron Hills.
Sarah Anne Minkin, PhD, is FMEP’s Director of Programs & Partnerships.
Al Fakheit is one of 12 villages located in the Masafer Yatta area that Israel claims as Firing Zone 918. The Palestinians living in these villages have fought a long legal battle to remain in their homes. On January 3 the Abu Sabha family lost their last legal appeal in an Israeli court.
The Abu Sabha family’s home and barn
Mohammed, the father of the family, was born in the village, in a cave home that is over a century old. In the 1990s Mohammed built tents for his family near the home, and in 2016 he built two homes, all on his privately owned land. Eighteen people lived in these homes. On January 3 the Israeli army issued demolition orders for these homes.
The Abu Sabha family’s animal barns
Members of the Abu Sabha family outside their home learn on January 3 that their legal appeals are exhausted.
On the morning of January 12 the Israeli Civil Administration arrived in the village with border police and bulldozers, and demolished 8 Palestinians structures including homes, two sheep barns, and a water well, leaving several families homeless and without shelter from the weather.
Israeli border police force families back from their homes on January 12.
Israeli forces confront a woman whose home is being demolished.
Mission: Hebron by Israeli filmmaker Rona Segal was published recently in the opinion section of the New York Times website, and can be watched there (with a subscription) or on YouTube.
Mission: Hebron is a short documentary based on interviews conducted by the director with Breaking the Silence testifiers about their service in Hebron. Describing a horrifying yet mundane routine of manning checkpoints, invading homes, nighttime arrests, and violently dispersing protests, they paint a picture of what serving in the second largest Palestinian city in the occupied territories requires, the atmosphere in the city, their interaction with the local population, both Palestinians and settlers, and how they felt about it all.
Screened around the world at international film festivals, the film won the Shagrir Prize at last year’s Jerusalem Film Festival and is now long-listed for the Academy Award for Best Short Documentary.
This morning, residents of Haifa, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv awoke to find posters depicting the faces of Palestinians from Massafer Yatta splashed across their cities.
Since the late 1990s, the Israeli army has been trying to operate a military training zone (Firing Zone 918) in Massafer Yatta. After a twenty-year legal battle to remain on their land, a final decision could be taken by the Israeli Supreme Court in March 2022. If the court rules against the residents, it would be one of the largest displacements of Palestinian communities in decades – with over 1300 people being forcibly transferred from their land.
The inhumanity of occupation is often justified under the guise of Israel’s ‘security needs’ but we must see through this. There is no justification for ethnic cleansing or stealing Palestinian land. Forcible transfer is a war crime. Solidarity with the residents of Massafer Yatta #savemassaferyatta