Palestinian Family Threatens to Self-immolate During Jerusalem Eviction

The eviction of a Palestinian family from their home in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah was delayed after police clashed with residents and Israeli peace activists and failed to complete it on Monday.

Members of the Salhia family threatened to set themselves on fire to prevent police from forcibly evicting them from their home. A daylong stand-off with security forces ended without the razing of the building.

Palestinians stand with gas canisters on the roof of a house, threatening to blow it up after Israeli police arrive to evict the family in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem, Monday, January 17, 2022 (Photo: Activestills)

The Jerusalem Municipality on Monday destroyed the plant nursery the family had run as well as two storage structures on the property. Once the police left, the family climbed down from the roof. The family is in the midst of a protracted legal battle with the Jerusalem Municipality over the fate of two homes on property the city has appropriated “for the construction of a school.”

The dramatic events captured the attention of the international community, the Palestinian Authority and Israeli peace activists, among them Hadash and Communist Party members, which said that Israel’s crackdown on illegal Palestinian structures is part of a larger policy of evicting Palestinian residents of the city in favor of Jewish ones. Hadash MK Ofer Cassif (Joint List) participated in the protest said the issue had nothing to do with the construction of a school. “This is about a policy of ethnic cleansing. This is what occupation and apartheid looks like.”

Also, a delegation of European officials led by European Union representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff, visited the scene. “Evictions/demolitions are illegal under international law and significantly undermine the prospects for peace as well as fuel tensions on the ground,” the European Union Representative’s Office tweeted.

The Salhia family fled the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ein Kerem during the 1948 Nakba and settled in Sheikh Jarrah in the eastern part of the city, which was under Jordanian rule for 19 years. Israel occupied and annexed the eastern part of the city from Jordan after the Six-Day War of 1967.


Jerusalem Municipality Advances Plans for New Homes

In addition, The Jerusalem municipality via the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee advanced a 1,465-unit plan for a new neighborhood in the occupied territories , half of which would be in the contested area over the 1967 ceasefire line.

According to Peace Now, the planned units would prevent territorial contiguity between East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhoods and Bethlehem. “This is another way in which Israel is erasing the Green Line in Jerusalem, ending Palestinian contiguity, and expropriating the lands of Palestinians. When Palestinians tried to plan construction there, it was rejected — and now the territory will be confiscated,” said Aviv Tatarsky, a researcher at the Ir Amim nonprofit organization.