The personal belongings of the Salhiyya family are strewn across the muddy ground in the rain following the demolition of their home in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem by Israeli forces on 19 January 2022. © 2022 UNRWA Photo by Dana Dode
The West Bank field office of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA) condemned the demolition of the home and eviction of the Palestinian Salhiya family in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
“Israeli forces violently raided the house of the Palestine refugee family at 3 am on 19 January, while members of the Salhiya family, including an elderly woman and a young child, were sleeping,” the UN agency said in a statement released last week.
“In a matter of hours, the Salhiya’s house and possessions were destroyed, erasing all traces of their nearly 40 years of history in the neighborhood. Having already lost their place of residence as a result of the 1948 conflict, the Salhiya family is now again displaced, seeking refuge one more time,” the statement added.
In the course of the operations aimed at evicting the family, the Israeli forces injured several family members. In addition, the Israeli forces arrested, among others, Mahmoud Salhiyya, the head of the family, who had threatened self-immolation two days ago, when Israeli forces demolished his commercial activity and source of livelihood next to the house.
Visiting the scene, UNRWA West Bank observed the total destruction of the house: school bags, clothes and family photos still partially visible under the rubble, according to the statement.
The case of the Salhiya family is not unique. Tens of Palestinian refugee families in different parts of Sheikh Jarrah alone (over 200 persons, many of whom are children) currently face an imminent threat of eviction by the Israeli authorities.
According to data collected by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in 2020, an estimated 218 Palestinian households comprising 970 Palestinians – 424 of whom are children – throughout East Jerusalem are at risk of displacement by the Israeli authorities.
UNRWA called upon the Israeli authorities to immediately halt all evictions and demolitions in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
UNRWA urged the Israeli authorities to abide by international laws and, as the occupying power, ensure the protection of Palestine refugees and civilians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.