Three Arrested as Police Violently Disperse Weekly Sheikh Jarrah Protest

Israel Police violently dispersed a peaceful protest in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah on Friday, detaining three Israeli demonstrators. The Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah are increasingly being harassed and attacked by settlers and the Israeli police, in an effort to push them to vacate their homes and hand them over to settlers.

Israeli demonstrators arrested during the demonstration in solidarity with Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem, December 24 (Photo: Free Jerusalem)

Hundreds of Palestinians and Israeli protesters marched toward the home of the Salem family, who are set to be evicted in January, but the police blocked their route, using physical force and stun grenades. Prior to the police crackdown, there were no signs of violence from the protesters. Following the arrest of three activists, several dozen people arrived to protest in front of Shalem police station on Sultan Suleiman Street in East Jerusalem, and the police again used force to disperse them.

Such protests in Sheikh Jarrah have occurred for around 12 years, but tensions have been especially high amid the imminent eviction of 11 members of the Salem family, who have been living in their home for the past 70 years. According a Hadash activist in Jerusalem, “The Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah are subjected to daily harassment, and temptations to be pushed out. The steadfastness of Sheikh Jarrah’s families is rooted in their belief that the Palestinian cause is a just cause.”

The case of Sheikh Jarrah has become a rallying point for the Palestinian cause in the past year, with 22 European diplomats visited last week the site amid the increased media attention. The head of the European Union’s mission to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff, visited the Salem family and blasted the eviction as “inhuman and unfair.”

Palestinian Seriously Wounded in Burqa

A Palestinian man was seriously wounded yesterday (Saturday) by the occupation army fire in the West Bank village of Burqa, as protests continue against settlement activity in the nearby Homesh outpost, more than a week after the death of a young settler in a shooting attack reignited tensions in the area.

At least 58 Palestinians were injured yesterday and many others suffocated from teargas by Israeli soldiers who locked down the main entrance to the village of Burqa in the occupied West Bank districts of Nablus, according to WAFA Palestinian news agency. Wafa Awwad, a photojournalist working with WAFA, was injured by a rubber-coated round while covering the clashes. Nine Palestinians wounded by live bullets were evacuated to a hospital in the nearby city of Nablus for medical treatment, and the condition of one of them was described as critical. 

The shutdown of the village entrance came as the Israeli occupation army reinforced its presence in the Nablus-Jenin Road, which is close to the village, to secure dozens of busloads packed with Israeli settlers who made a provocative tour of Homesh, north of the village, an Israeli settlement which was evacuated in 2005, but settlers vow to return to it.

On Friday, the Israeli army cleared structures that were erected in Homesh, after having allowed thousands of right-wing activists to march to the outpost and demonstrate against the planned evacuation of the illegal yeshiva building there. A Palestinian protester was hit on Friday by a gunshot to the stomach, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. He was evacuated to an-Najah hospital in Nablus for surgery. At least two others were hit in the legs, and were evacuated to the Rafidia hospital in Nablus. At least 185 people suffered from tear gas inhalation, including a pregnant woman who was going into labor during the clashes, the Palestinian Red Crescent reported.

Palestinians were attacked also on Thursday evening by settlers, after some thousands pro-settlement protesters marched near Homesh. Residents of Burqa said the settlers hurled stones at two houses in the village, and physically assaulted residents. One Palestinian resident was hospitalized.