With police protection, Israeli settlers stage 'violent anti-Arab march' in Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah

With police protection, Israeli settlers stage 'violent anti-Arab march' in Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah
Dozens of Israeli settlers marched into the Palestinian neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah chanting racist slogans on Wednesday, under protection from Israeli police.
4 min read
West Bank
09 December, 2021
Settlers chantedc 'death to Arabs' and 'Arabs are criminals', said residents. [AFP]

Several Palestinians were injured by Israeli police during a settler march into the Palestinian neighbourhood off Sheikh Jarrah in Jerusalem on Wednesday, including four attacked by pepper spray,  according to the Palestinian Red Crescent society in Jerusalem.

Israeli police dispersed Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah’s main street Wednesday afternoon, to secure a march by Israeli settlers on the neighbourhood, local residents told The New Arab.

According to Nabil al-Kurd, a resident of Sheikh Jarrah in his sixties, dozens of Israeli settlers came to the neighbourhood around 5 pm and marched into the neighbourhood’s centre chanting anti-Palestinian slogans. “Most of us got inside and shut the doors”, al-Kurd told The New Arab. “Every time settlers come in this fashion they attack houses. This time the Israeli police accompanied them and prevented them from doing that”, al-Kurd added.

Al-Kurd also told The New Arab that “the settlers were escorted out by the Israeli police after two hours of mobbing in the streets of Sheikh Jarrah. Then around 50 to 60 Israeli policemen came to the neighbourhood and removed a tent of solidarity that we have set up in the centre of the neighbourhood”.

"The police were there to control settlers"

Alaa Salaymah, a 24-year-old resident of Sheikh Jarrah told The New Arab that “when the settlers came in, some people were gathering around a fire in the tent, including solidarity activists and friends from outside the neighbourhood”.

Salaymah pointed out that “when settlers come in large numbers, the youth gather in one group to protect each other and stand in front of them. This time the Israeli police dispersed us, forced anyone not from the neighbourhood out, including solidarity activists, and closed all entrances to Sheikh Jarrah”.

Salaymah noted that “the police were there to control settlers, who were very aggressive and chanted slogans like 'death to Arabs' and 'Arabs are criminals'. They also broke into a residential building but the police pulled them out”. Salaymah added that the police “dismantled the solidarity tent and took it because settlers had complained about it. It’s not the first time they do, and we will put another one soon”, she insisted.

Israeli settlers active in Sheikh Jarrah and around it are mostly organised by the Nihlat Shimon organization, according to Madhat Dibeh, a Jerusalem-based lawyer working in settler-related cases. “Nihlat Shimon was established in the US to claim properties that belonged to Jews in the Ottoman era, but like many other settler organizations, it is fundamentally political”, Dibeh told The New Arab.

Political cover

Dibeh added that “this type of settler organizations and their activities enjoy political cover from members of Knesset like Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir".

The two Israeli politicians are known for their strong support of settlers and have personally been present in Sheikh Jarrah.

Nihlat Shimon organization claims the property of Sheikh Jarrah’s land based on the claim that it had Jewish owners in the Ottoman era.

Some 28 families face expulsion orders from the Israeli court. In November, Sheikh Jarrah families collectively rejected a deal offered by the Israeli court to acquire ‘protected tenants’ status in exchange for paying rent to the Nihlat Shimon organization.

“What they try to do through these settler-riots is to impose an atmosphere that Sheikh Jarrah belongs to them, and thus encourage the Israeli court to order the expulsion of families”, said Dibeh.