How Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah became a global flashpoint
Israeli police in riot gear pushed a Palestinian protester to the ground in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, a moment captured on the smartphones of people looking on.
“See what they’re doing! They’re beating up women!” Aya Khalaf, a Palestinian social media influencer, screamed in the background as she caught the May 9 incident on a live stream to her 187,000 Instagram followers.
The scene is one of several shared on social media from the near-nightly confrontations between Israeli police and protesters against the expulsion of eight Palestinian families from the neighbourhood, which is claimed by Jewish settlers.
The hashtag “#SaveSheikhJarrah” has gained momentum overseas, with British singer Dua Lipa among those expressing solidarity.
In October last year, an Israeli court ruled in favour of settlers who say the Palestinian families are living on land that used to belong to Jews. Palestinians are appealing the decision at Israel’s Supreme Court.
Anger over the proposed evictions was a key factor behind tensions in Jerusalem over the Muslim holy month of Ramzan, which last week escalated far beyond the holy city into the worst hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians for years.
Islamist group Hamas launched a rocket assault on Israel, which hit back with multiple air and artillery strikes on Gaza. A week later, nearly 200 people have been killed in Gaza, including 58 children, and 10 people have been killed in Israel, two of them children.
The settlers who filed the lawsuit for Sheikh Jarrah say they bought the land from two Jewish associations that purchased it at the end of the 19th century. Palestinians, who question the legitimacy of the settlers’ documents, have lived there since the 1950s.
Israel captured East Jerusalem in a 1967 war, later annexing it in a move not recognised by most of the international community who regard settlements there as illegal.