A crucial moment in the struggle to save Sheikh Jarrah

A message with determination from Suhad Babaa of Just Vision

Increasing the power and reach of Palestinians and Israelis working to end the occupation and build a future of equality for all.


I’m coming up for air after a long week to provide an update on the campaign to save Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

Last fall, Israeli courts ruled to evict several Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, a continuation of a devastating and violent takeover by Israeli settlers — backed by the Israeli police and judicial system — that we documented in our 2012 short, My Neighbourhood. Early this week, the Israeli Supreme Court postponed their ruling on the evictions until May 6, asking the residents to “come to an agreement” with the settlers who are trying to take over their homes. The suggested “agreement” – based on Palestinians forfeiting ownership of their homes to the settlers – was, of course, refused by the families who have lived in Sheikh Jarrah for decades. Yesterday, the courts postponed the hearing once again until May 10.
 
As Mohammed El Kurd, a resident of Sheikh Jarrah, youth organizer and protagonist of My Neighbourhood often reflects, while there are lengthy “legal processes” playing out, what’s happening in Sheikh Jarrah is political and systemic. Moreover, the “pattern of elongating the legal process is a common practice to dull popular resistance” to Israel’s expansionist policies. 

But the resistance of the community has not been dulled. Sheikh Jarrah’s youth have been holding nightly vigils to demonstrate against the evictions, raise awareness of their struggle and save the neighborhood. The community’s nonviolent protests have been met by brute force, with Israeli police violently storming Palestinian homes, spraying skunk (putrid liquid) at demonstrators, attacking residents and protestors with batons and mounted horses and arresting youth. Meanwhile, Israeli settlers continue to be backed by police and government officials, including a lawmaker from the far-right Kahanist party who temporarily set up a makeshift office in the neighborhood and the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem who goaded violence against Palestinians
May 3: Three Palestinian youth arrested, including Mohammed El Kurd’s brother, Mahmoud, and Omar Al-Khatib, pictured above.
May 7: Israeli police block activists from entering Sheikh Jarrah to demonstrate alongside residents. Thanks to Oren Ziv for the photos
The coming days in Sheikh Jarrah are crucial. The community’s campaign has gained momentum with press coverage starting to pick up steam and numerous US political leaders speaking out in support including: Rep. Cori BushRep. Rashida Tlaib, Rep. Chuy Garcia, Rep. Debbie DingleRep. Marie NewmanRep Ilhan OmarRep. Mark Pocan and more. Representatives Newman and Pocan are also leading an effort to urge the Biden Administration to oppose the evictions and a grassroots petition has also been widely circulated. Still, the majority of international press outlets have remained silent, and there has yet to be substantive action taken by the US, which could help pressure Israeli authorities to stop the forced displacement of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem.
We hope you will share this note far and wide. If you know journalists or decision-makers who can bring attention to what’s happening in Sheikh Jarrah, please reach out to them. And to get the latest updates, follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram, along with #SaveSheikhJarrah.

Even the Guardian is forced to cover the situation, athough the coverage itself is a cut and paste Reuters piece.

Israeli police clash with protesters over Palestinian evictions

Up to 178 Palestinians and six officers injured in skirmishes at al-Aqsa mosque and around east Jerusalem