Israeli security forces in Sheikh Jarrah

Authorities forced to confront deep-rooted Sheikh Jarrah conflict

With unrest becoming increasingly frequent and violent, Israeli authorities are forced to come face-to-face with the East Jerusalem neighborhood's six decades of complexity

Elisha Ben Kimon, Haim Goldich |
Published: 02.16.22, 23:35
Governance in Sheikh Jarrah, or Shimon Hatzadik (depending on who you ask), is almost non-existent. Verdicts, government policies, and the police all hover over the issues occurring within the neighborhood in East Jerusalem.
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  • While this area has always been controversial, recent activism has brought to life violent confrontations that can no longer be brushed under the rug.
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    Israeli security forces in Sheikh Jarrah
    (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch)
    Legislatively, the land of Sheikh Jarrah was bought by Jewish communities back in 1875 and then occupied by Jordanians, who split it amongst East Jerusalem residents after the 1948 Independence War. These residents claim that the property doesn't belong to the Jordanians, yet is in private ownership, but the Supreme Court rejected this claim.
    Throughout the years, the Jewish community members proved their ownership over several structures in the neighborhood through legal procedures.
    In the 80s, there was a compromise on the line, and the Arab residents were recognized as protected residents. When they stopped paying rent to their Jewish landlords, they damaged their right to continue living in the buildings.
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    A Jewish settler's car torched by Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah
    (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch)
    The legal conversations regarding this territory are an ongoing dispute; The current issue is surrounding the evacuation of the Salem family from their home.
    "The same way we don't want Palestinians to come and ask the hundreds of thousands of Israelis living in their homes in Katamon, Talbiye, Jaffa, or Haifa prior to 1948, the settlers shouldn't ask the Palestinians to leave Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan," said Hagit Ofran of Peace Now — a liberal advocacy group promoting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    On the contrary, Elyashiv Kemhi, who manages the Jewish properties in Sheikh Jarrah through the "Nahalat Shimon" organization, calls for differentiation between terrorist attacks and legal battles — and for focus only on the latest events.
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    MK Itamar Ben Gvir's makeshift parliamentary office in Sheikh Jarrah
    (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch)
    "We're talking about terrorists that tried to set fire and burn a Jew with his family several times just because they are Jewish", he said. "We were supposed to be sitting Shiva after the tragic event that was miraculously evaded. We demand the feeling of security and governance be returned to Jerusalem residents, especially the neighborhood residents, and bless the Knesset members that come to support us and stand with us like a guardian wall".
    The house next to that of the Salem family belongs to Tal Yoshvayev, which has been set on fire five times. The court decided that the state must evacuate the Salem family this coming March, and this weekend the Yoshvayev house was set on fire once again. This led to an outrage following Itamar Ben Gvir erecting a "parliamentary office" in the neighborhood.
    The police are trying to act against the rioters and are doing everything in their power to calm the spirits. However, the lack of success is discouraging and hints at a long road ahead regarding the weekly legal disputes surrounding Sheikh Jarrah.
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    Sheikh Jarrah home demolished by Israeli forces
    (Photo: AFP)
    Meanwhile, Mayor Moshe Lion announced that he calls on the municipal security branch to establish an improved security force that will promise the residents peace and make sure the rioters are charged for their crimes.
    "We can't forget the tomorrow — Jerusalem is a city of coexistence, it always has been and always will be," he said.
    Ben Gvir's provocative statements and actions only go to prove the lack of governance. This, as well as the Yoshvayev house being set to flames, is spurring more and more unrest. These events along with the approaching month of Ramadan are warning signals to the authorities, who are reminded they didn't expect last year's riots that led to Operation Guardian Wall.
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