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Israeli Forces Demolish the Salhiya Family Home in Sheikh Jarrah

January 19, 2022

A year after the Sheikh Jarrah events gripped public attention, its residents are still experiencing threats of demolition and displacement from the Israeli military forces.

In the early morning of 19 January, at 3 A.M, a fleet of police cars belonging to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stormed the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Palestine and barricaded it.

Around the same time, citizen journalist and activist Muna El-Kurd posted screenshots of a chat between herself and another civilian in Sheikh Jarrah, saying that Israeli forces have surrounded the home of the Salhiya family. According to the screenshots, the Salhiya family, one of the families that have resided in the neighborhood for generations, was detained – the elderly, women, and children included – and the home was consequently emptied.

Only a few nights before, the middle-aged patriarch of the Salhiya family, Mahmoud Salhiya,was camped out with his family in front of his home to demonstrate his adamance at protecting his home.

“My message to the Jerusalemites: do not leave your home. Even if the police threatened you to leave, die in your house with dignity! We have nothing left here in Jerusalem. This is ethnic cleansing, it’s my turn now, but next, it will be the rest of the neighbors. We’d rather die in our land with dignity than to surrender to them. We want to expose them in front of the whole world; the municipality of the occupation is ethnically cleansing us. They’re excavating our cemeteries, they’re messing with our houses, and they’re humiliating us,” shares Salhiya on social media.

The Guardian reports that on 17 January, Mahmoud Salhiya threatened to set his own home on fire before he allowed the Israeli forces to evict him and his family i. Their home has been under the threat of eviction since 2017.

El-Kurd went live from her Instagram account to report from as close to the scene as possible, only for Instagram to cut off her livestream.

The popular social media platform effectively blocked El-Kurd from documenting the forced displacement of Sheikh Jarrah’s citizens. By the time she was able to go back online, the home of the Salhiya family no longer stood. Citizens rushed to the scene with their phones, along with several journalists, documenting the ruins where the 60 year-old home once stood.

According to Al-Qastal, a Palestinian news network, when civilians tried to get closer to the house either to record the developmentsor to fight the police forces, they were shot at with rubber bullets. A 10-year-old boy was able to escape and, amidst his tears, explained that they were beating everyone and arresting people who were trying to help.

Al-Quds News Network, another Palestinian news network, reported that IDF forces were barricading the neighborhood meant disallowing ambulances to enter, leaving those beaten and wounded completely unattended.

El-Kurd passed on a message from Mahmoud Salhiya’s son in which he stated that “occupation forces have stormed my father’s home, detained him from his bed, and violently beat up everyone in the vicinity. There’s a rumor that they’ve detained around 22 people who were standing in solidarity with the family and that many members of the Salhiya family were wounded, most suffer from broken bones or gunshot wounds from rubber bullets. The occupation forces have started demolishing the home.”

The information was confirmed by Mahmoud Salhiya’s daughter a few hours later to Palestinian network Al-Qastal.

What remains of the Salhiya family home.  Photo Credit: Al-Qastal

According to Al-Qastal, the Salhiya family was not only expelled from their home, beaten, displaced, and were forced to witness their home being demolished, but five of the family’s members were also detained. They also confirmed that 22 other Palestinian citizens standing in solidarity with the family were detained. Their current location and state is still unknown.

Photo Credit: Al-Arabiya

In response to the demolishing of the Salhiya family home, Mohamed El-Kurd tweeted: “Zionism is death.”

The Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU) has been posting live updates to social media in accordance with Muna El-Kurd’s reporting. In reaction, many Palestinians in occupied Palestine and abroad have expressed their anguish, comparing what is currently happening to 1948. The Nakba of 1948, marked the displacement of over half the Palestinian population and the murder of thousands of others as the apartheid state of Israel settled in. Israeli forces have been assaulting families protecting their homes in Sheikh Jarrah for days. Occupation forces have also been assaulting, detaining, and demolishing homes and schools in Al-Naqab and the Hebron Hills for the last week.

“This is exactly what a thief does. He sneaks in the dead of the night to take what is not his,” writes Palestinian journalist Dina Khatib. Occupation forces storm Sheikh Jarrah at 3 A.M to forcefully uproot the Salhiya family from their home, arrest members of the family, and demolish their house. Ethnic cleansing is happening every day before our eyes in 2022. We’re not in 1948.”

In 2021, the UN reported that Israeli forces demolished, directly and indirectly, or seized 474 Palestinian-owned buildings including shops, homes, and schools. Which resulted in the displacement of 656 people, 359 of them children, across the occupied West Bank. Compared to the statistics of 2020, there’s been an increase in the number of displaced people by almost 70 percent.

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