Palestinian, Israeli, and foreign activists demonstrate against Israeli occupation and settlement activity in the Palestinian territories [File: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP]
Palestinian Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Fadi al-Hidmi warned of a serious escalation by the Israeli occupation forces and settlers as the international community remains silent on the forced expulsions of Palestinian families from East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
Al-Hidmi denounced, in a statement quoted by WAFA news agency, the unbridled attacks carried out by Israeli settlers and police against the defenseless Palestinian residents of the neighborhood as a serious escalation and one of the most heinous crimes inflicted by police officers and settlers on the neighborhood residents.
He pointed that Israeli police allowed the settlers “free hand” to carry out the attack, which left 20 Palestinians wounded, and even participated in it as it continued to seal off the neighborhood and deny Palestinians access to it using barriers and cement blocks.
“What is going on is a crime intended to forcefully uproot the Palestinian residents from their houses in the neighborhood,” al-Himdi added as he called on the international community to intervene to stop the forced expulsions without any further delay.
On Monday evening, Israeli settlers, protected by police, hurled stones at Palestinian houses in the neighborhood, torched a house belonging to al-Kassem family and obstructed attempts to put out the fires.
Settlers threw chairs, rocks and fireworks outside residents homes, with a video circulating on social media of the attack in Sheikh Jarrah.
As the settlers carried out their attack, police officers opened fire towards the residents and used stun grenades and skunk water to attack them, injuring at least 20 Palestinians and detaining two others.
Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said that its medics treated 20 injuries, including three suffering from pepper spray, 13 others suffering from tear gas suffocation, two others hit by rubber-coated steel bullets and two others who sustained bruises from severe beating. One of the severely beaten casualties was an elderly who was rushed to a hospital for urgent treatment.
PRCS added that settlers attacked one of its ambulances with stones as police directly sprayed another ambulance with skunk water.
Sheikh Jarrah has been the scene of frequent crackdowns by Israeli police on Palestinians protesting against the threatened expulsion of dozens of Palestinian families from their homes in favour of Israeli settler groups.
Palestinians have maintained that the Israeli occupation authorities’ decision to “evict” the families from their houses in favor of the settler groups is politically-motivated and comes as part of Israel’s efforts to ethnically cleanse Jerusalemite Palestinians.
Since the occupation of Jerusalem by Israel in June 1967, Israeli settlers colonial organizations, namely Elad and Ateret Cohanim, have claimed ownership of Palestinian property in Jerusalem. Backed by the Israeli state, judiciary and security services, these organizations have been working on wresting control of Palestinian property and convert it into colonial outposts as part of the efforts to ensure a Jewish majority in the city.