Sheikh Jarrah: Eviction & Increased Violence in East Jerusalem

At the end of April, Lehava, an ultra-right Jewish supremacist group took the streets of Jerusalem to chant “Death to the Arabs.” The physical and verbal attacks on Palestinian livelihoods are paired with the legitimate threat of settler’s further displacing those in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

Sheikh Jarrah hosts 28 Palestinian refugees families who were displaced during the 1948 Nabka. In 1956, Jordan had control over East Jerusalem and signed an agreement with UNRWA which allowed the families to build simple homes on abandoned property. The agreement intended for the families to receive home ownership after three years, which was prohibited by Israel’s conquering of East Jerusalem.

There is a continuous threat of violence and eviction. Since 1972, Zionist settler organizations questioned the legitimacy of Palestinian rental agreements. Settlers have forcibly evicted Palestinians and thrown their possessions into the street. Such acts have been supported and tolerated by soldiers and private security forms. Evicted and homeless Palestinians suffer from no state protection and moreover, are charged unreasonable fees to pay for their eviction.

Mohammed El-Kurd, a Sheikh Jarrah local, was only 11 in 2009 when half of his home was seized by settlers. He says, “Since then, all that has separated us has been drywall and blanket on a clothesline. The blankets are there to block the settlers from harassing us.” “One night, settlers threw a television at my grandmother, putting her in a coma. While the ambulance drove off, they made a fire out of my baby sister’s crib. My sister, 2 years old at the time struggled with a panic disorder will into the following decade.”

In October 2020, an Israeli court ruled to forcibly evict 12 Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah. The evicted families would also be obliged to pay $20,000 to cover settlers’ legal expenses. Such evictions are made to further colonize Jerusalem and maintain a Jewish majority. There are 4 families immediately affected by the evictions.

On May 2, 2021, the Supreme Court of Israel did not make a decision on the 4 families that appealed the eviction. The ruling is postponed until May 6, and the judged order for both there be a deal made in which the Palestinian families relinquish ownership to the settler organization and pay them rent.

The resistance movement against the expulsions must be maintained despite the effort to elongate the legal process and diminish the popular resistance movement. The rise in violence in East Jerusalem shows the workings of apartheid state that treats Palestinians as a secondary class. Since its occupation, Israel has retained the tenant protection law. However, Israeli settlers are trying to evict the Palestinian families questioning that they had legitimate rental agreements.