Palestinian, International, Israeli Activists Arrested During Two Days of Action in Sheikh Jarrah

29 July 2009

Sheikh Jarrah 07_26_09 arrestOn Sunday at 12:30pm, three internationals, one Israeli and two Palestinians, including the former Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, were arrested in an attempt to block settlers from entering a Palestinian home of the Hijazi family in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. As they were arrested settlers entered the home and began to destroy the house from the inside. At 3:30pm three internationals tried to enter the Palestinian home to stop the destruction and were also put under arrest. A protest in solidarity with the arrestees and against the actions of the settlers was called for at 4pm on Monday.

Sheikh Jarrah 07_27_09The scene at 4pm on Monday was relatively calm with people videotaping the activities of the settlers and chanting slogans outside the tin barrier put up by the settlers along the perimeter of the pedestrian path in the center of the neighborhood. Roughly 60 protesters were present, about 1/2 Palestinian and 1/2 international and Israeli supporters. Young Palestinians set off fireworks nearby and banged on the tin wall making loud clanging noises. The 15 police and 10 border police present at the beginning of the protest began to react more and more violently, threatening the kids with violence by lifting their hands as if about to hit them. Despite a court order preventing the settlers from building a house on the land of the Palestinian home they partially destroyed, the settlers moved building materials into the house from outside – on two occasions with the help of the police – despite cries from the Palestinians that they were breaking the court order.

At 5:42pm as the protest got more active, 10 to 12 police charged the crowd attacking a small boy and pouncing on a Palestinian woman, Huda Imam, that was leading the anti-settler chants. Imam was thrown to the ground as at least 5 officers held her down and twisted her arm behind her back. She is the only arrest of the afternoon. Witnesses also report seeing people trampled during the assault and an Israeli was held and dragged by the neck after earlier attempting to negotiate with the police.

Shortly after, police attempted to intimidate other international activists near the van holding Imam by threatening to arrest them if they do not show their passports, though no arrests were made.

This is the first house in western Sheikh Jarrah that has been taken over by settlers, after winning a dubious court case in which the settlers claim the land was owned by other Jews prior to 1948, therefore giving them the legal right to take over the land, even though Palestinian landowners had deeds from the Ottoman Period. One house in eastern Sheikh Jarrah is currently occupied and the Hannoun and Al-Gawi families are currently facing eviction orders there.

The three Palestinians arrested on Sunday were released the same day. The Israeli and international activists were held overnight, released the next day on the condition that they stay out of Sheikh Jarrah for 3 weeks. One international was threatened with deportation, but it appears he too will be released on conditions.