Sheikh Jarrah eviction: The straw that broke the camel’s back?

It is inevitable that bloodshed occurs from time to time in conflict zones, especially so in Israel and Palestine, where confrontation has been ongoing for more than 70 years now. The current clashes broke out between Israel’s police and Palestinians in East Jerusalem at the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The police resorted to erecting barriers at Damascus gate, a popular night time gathering place during the holy month and in response stones and burning tyres were hurled at them by Palestinian protestors. To further escalate the situation an online video of orthodox Jews being attacked by Palestinians emerged online. The situation was temporarily resolved after the Damascus gate was reopened.

However then, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced the postponement of elections in Palestine accusing the Israel’s Authorities of not allowing Palestinians to hold elections in East Jerusalem. This would have been the first election since 2006. Hamas was predicted to make electoral gains while Abbas is engulfed in his own internal divisions within Fatah. It’s a gloomy setback for young Palestinians, especially for those, looking forward to their first participation in elections. Considering the probable election results, it wouldn’t be wrong to assume the delaying or even cancellation of the elections fell well within the interest of both Israel and Abbas; helping Israel to not have to confront Hamas in West Bank and Abbas to cling on to his throne.

On 09 of May the Supreme Court of Israel delayed the hearings scheduled for the following day on a plea filed by four Palestinian families against eviction from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem – to make way for Jewish settlers. Organizations representing Jewish settlers based their claims on the Legal and Administrative Matters Law, 1970 which in practice, allow only Jews to make prerogative reclaims on lands they have left behind under the control of Jordan in 1948. East Jerusalem is not internationally recognized as a part of Israel, and the UN termed the forcible application of the law in occupied territories as “unlawful”. Palestinians residing in Sheikh Jarrah were refugees of what Palestinians call the 1948 “Nakba” from other parts of modern day Israel and they settled in the neighborhood after an agreement with the Jordanian authorities and the UN, whereby the ownership of the property shall be transferred to the Palestinian residents after 3 years but Jordan claims the transfer never took place because of the 1967 take over of East Jerusalem by Israel. Palestinians in other neighborhoods of East Jerusalem such as Silwan are also in imminent risk of eviction.

And now, Hamas and Israel have been firing rockets and airstrikes at each other with both sides reporting casualties and deaths of their respective forces as well as civilians including children. Resolving this conflict is a distinct possibility but when will the uneasy calm return in the midst of this chaos? No one really knows.

The Next Century Foundation will host a series of working group meetings on Israel and Palestine starting almost immediately. For details register on this link:

You are invited to a Zoom meeting – first meeting May 19, 2021 06:00 PM London / 08:00 PM Israel and Palestine. Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

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