Housing and Land Rights

‘Two-time refugees’: Israel forcibly expels Palestinian family from Sheikh Jarrah and demolishes their home

According to testimony from one of the family members, Yasmin Salhiya, posted on social media, Israeli forces beat a number of the family members during the arrest, including a nine-year-old girl.
At around 3:00 am Wednesday morning Israeli forces raided the Salhiya family home in Sheikh Jarrah and forcibly displaced the 15 family members living inside the house before demolishing the family's home.
At around 3:00 am Wednesday morning Israeli forces raided the Salhiya family home in Sheikh Jarrah and forcibly displaced the 15 family members living inside the house before demolishing the family's home.

After a standoff that captured global attention, Israel forcibly displaced a Palestinian family from their home and demolished it in the middle of the night on Wednesday, in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. 

During the raid Israeli police reportedly used rubber bullets, and detained dozens of people from the Salhiya family and the neighborhood, The Guardian reported. The Israeli police and Jerusalem Municipality said in a statement that they arrested a number of people “on suspicion of violating a court order and disturbing the peace.”

On Monday members of the Salhiya family barricaded themselves on the roof of their home as Israeli police attempted to forcibly evict them. After an hours-long standoff that lasted into the evening, Israeli police retreated — only to come back in the middle of the night Wednesday. 

Videos of members of the Salhiya family watching on in the cold winter night as Israeli forces destroyed their home were shared widely across social media, as people condemned Israel for the demolition and forced eviction. 

The Salhiya family, like the other Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah under threat of forced expulsion, were displaced from their homes during the Nakba in 1948, and were settled into Sheikh Jarrah as refugees. 

Now, 70 years later, the family has been forcibly displaced by Israel for a second time. 

“These cruel acts turn the Salhiya into two-time refugees,” Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine Director of Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

“These are war crimes. This is what apartheid & persecution looks like. Perpetrators should be prosecuted and sanctioned. End Complicity,” he said on Twitter. 

Israeli human rights group Ir Amim condemned the eviction and demolition, saying that “the Israeli authorities had it within their power to prevent such an inexcusable act and violation of [international law]. They were presented with multiple options which would have enabled the Salhiya family to remain safely in their homes.”

The Salhiya family were forcibly evicted from their home in order to make way for a school to be built by the Jerusalem Municipality. Ir Amim pointed out that just down the street from the Salhiya family home is an empty plot of land allocated for such purposes that could have been used for the school, thus saving the Salhiya family from expulsion and demolition.

However, the group pointed out that the plot of land in question was allocated by the Jerusalem Municipality for the construction of a future Yeshiva school. 

“Yet as the world is watching, they chose instead to cynically dispossess a Palestinian family,” Ir Amim said. 

“Clearly the thought of building schools for Palestinians in place of a new yeshiva in Sheikh Jarrah is inconceivable in the eyes of the Israeli authorities. They’d rather force a Palestinian family out of their homes to meet such needs.”

Palestinian leaders also condemned the demolition, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas calling on the United States to “compel the government of the Israeli occupation to stop the policy of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people.”

Hamas called the demolition a “dangerous escalation of the ongoing war of occupation against the city of Jerusalem and Jerusalemites.”

Photo: Mohammed El-Kurd / Twitter

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