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Sheikh Jarrah: An Open Wound in Israeli-Palestinian Land Disputes

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Sheikh Jarrah: An Open Wound in Israeli-Palestinian Land Disputes

Palestinian protester holds sign “We can’t breathe since 1948” aloft. Photo: Twitter

Twenty-two Palestinians were injured and 11 arrested in overnight clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police forces near the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem in the early hours of Thursday, 6 May.

The night’s violence is the latest round in a string of clashes that were triggered by protests by Jewish extremists attempting to enter the Muslim section of the Old City since the beginning of Ramadan. The clashes — some between Palestinians and Israeli protesters, others between Palestinians and Israeli police, and others yet between Israeli protesters and police — left hundreds injured and many arrested over the past weeks.

The US embassy in Jerusalem released a statement calling on the parties to end the incitement and avoid hate speech and violence as the protesters chanted racist anti-Arab rhetoric.

The clashes occur against the backdrop of sharpening land tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. Earlier this year, a Jerusalem district court ruled that the homes of four Palestinian families legally belonged to Jewish families, which is leading to the demolitions of houses, forced eviction and dispossession of hundreds of Palestinians.

The UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process Tor Wennesland also condemned the evictions, calling on “political, religious and community leaders on all sides to stand firmly against violence, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric.”

Sheikh Jarrah is a neighborhood in Jerusalem’s old city, which has been home to 28 Palestinian refugee families who lost their homes in 1948. These families were promised housing and land in the neighborhood as a result of a 1956 agreement between Jordan and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). But with Israel’s move to annex East Jerusalem in 1967 — a move not recognized by the majority of the international community — they were denied ownership of the homes and lands.

Israel is coming under mounting pressure after a sequence of negative reports on its human right record vis-a-vis the Palestinian population under its rule, most recently from the international NGO Human Rights Watch and the Israeli NGO B’Tselem, both labelling Israel’s practices and treatment of Palestinians as apartheid.

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Senior Editor at Egyptian Streets and Adjunct Professor at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at the American University in Cairo. Holds a master's degree in Global Journalism from the University of Sheffield, where she wrote a dissertation about the effect of disinformation on the profession of journalism. Passionate about music, story-telling, baking, social justice, and taking care of her plants. "If you smell something, say something." -Jon Stewart, 2015

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