Jewish settlers and right-wing Israeli activists are also taking a stand. They say the Palestinian residents are squatters, and that the neighborhood, which is built next to the tomb of an ancient Jewish high priest, was Jewish until 1948.
“I would ask you,” said Aryeh King, leader of the settlers and deputy mayor of Jerusalem, “if you are the owner of the property and someone is crouching on your property, would you not have the right to get it out of your property? property?”
Hundreds of East Jerusalem residents have gathered in Sheikh Jarrah every night for the past week to say otherwise. Their vigils often begin with outdoor iftar meals, marking the end of the daily Ramadan fast, followed by protests and dancing, culminating in clashes with the police. Police charged them on horseback, sprayed them with skunk water and threw stun grenades.
Cars were set on fire, guns drawn, scores arrested. Last month, a Jewish MP from a predominantly Arab party was beaten up by police. On Thursday evening, a far-right lawmaker, Itamar Ben Gvir, set up a makeshift office in front of a house listed for eviction, triggering a brawl between protesters and settlers.
The United Nations and the European Union have expressed concern.
“We are deeply concerned about the heightened tensions in Jerusalem,” State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter said on Friday, calling for calm “to defuse tensions and avoid violent clashes.”
The Israeli government has tried to play down the conflict, describing the case as a private matter between Arab families who moved to the neighborhood in the 1950s, and the settler groups that Israeli courts have tried are the legal owners of the houses. families.
In a statement released Friday, Israel’s foreign ministry said the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian terrorists “are presenting a real estate dispute between private parties as a nationalist cause in order to incite violence in Jerusalem.”