Israel demolishes house, expels family in Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah

Israel demolishes house, expels family in Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah
The Israeli Jerusalem municipality says it is enforcing a court order against illegal buildings in an area destined for a school for children with special needs. Palestinian residents describe the project as a Jewish religious school.
3 min read
West Bank
19 January, 2022
The house was home to 12 family members including eight minors. [Getty]

Ramallah - Israeli forces demolished a family’s home after expelling its members on Wednesday, in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, local sources confirmed.

The house was home to 12 members of the Salhiyah family, including eight minors. According to local Palestinian sources, Israeli forces arrested 26 individuals, including the family members and Palestinian, Israeli and international activists who were on site.

Local Palestinian journalists told The New Arab that Israeli forces had arrived at 3 AM and had begun to forcibly push family members out of the house before demolishing it. The same sources accused Israeli forces of banning all media outlets from approaching the property. Hundreds of security forces were reportedly deployed to cordon the area off.

In a joint statement with the Jerusalem municipality, the Israeli police said that 25 people, including five family members, were arrested “on suspicion of violating a court order, violent fortification and disturbing public order”.

The family’s lawyer, Waleed Tayeh, told The New Arab’s Arabic-language sister publication Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that most of the activists had been released, along with the family's women and children, while Mahmoud Salhiyah, the father, and his older sons remained under arrest.

On Monday, Israeli forces attempted to expel the family, whose members threatened to burn the house and themselves alive before giving up their home. Israeli forces reportedly proceeded to raze buildings located in the surrounding property, including a tree nursery - the family’s business.

According to the family's lawyer, the Israeli Jerusalem municipality officially claims the property for “public benefit”, the judicial term used for expropriation. Several international media outlets quoted the aforementioned statement by the Israeli police and the Jerusalem municipality as saying that the demolition was based on a court-approved eviction order of “illegal buildings built on grounds designated for a school for children with special needs”.

Hashem Salaymah, a member of Sheikh Jarrah’s neighborhood committee, told The New Arab two days ago that the municipality's plan “is nothing more than a Jewish religious school. It’s all about replacing the residents with Jewish settlers”.

Lawyer Tayeh pointed out that “today’s demolition followed a request presented before the court to halt all measures against the family and pay reparations for their losses, due to the unlawful razing of their property two days ago”. Tayeh noted that “the court was set to look into the case on January 23.”

Some 28 families in Sheikh Jarrah face expulsion orders based on a law that allows Jews to claim properties that belonged to Jewish owners before 1948. Other families in the neighborhood, like the Salhiyah family, face expulsion orders that are based on the Jerusalem municipality's “public benefit”.