In the Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, Palestinian families are threatened with forced displacement from their homes. They must make way for Israeli settlers. Protests against this are brutally suppressed by the Israeli police. PAX is calling on the Dutch government to hold the Israeli authorities accountable for these violations of international law. Concrete measures must be taken. The time for expressing concern is over; action is needed to stop the displacements.
Israeli police responded with excessive force to the protests against the displacements. This in turn led to escalations between protesters and Israeli police. Palestinians praying at the al-Aqsa mosque were also attacked. Hamas fired rockets from Gaza into Jerusalem which in turn led to retaliatory attacks by Israel killing over 20 people, including 9 children. This escalation must stop. It is important, in the midst of this violence, not to lose sight of the situation in East Jerusalem.
Actions speak louder than words
The families at risk of expulsion are calling on the international community to act. The families are supported by a rapidly growing, peaceful, solidarity movement, widely supported among Palestinians and also supported by various Jewish-Israeli groups and individuals. PAX also supports the call. The Netherlands, take action. To start with public pressure, but also working within the European Union, United Nations and by itself on a roadmap of concrete measures that can be taken to increase the pressure on Israel. As mandated by the adopted Karabulut motion in Dutch Parliament. The UN on Friday called on Israel to call off the planned displacements. It also warned that the actions may constitute war crimes. It is time to act in addition to speaking out.
Ring of settlements
Settlers and radical nationalist Jewish organizations have been trying for decades to dispalce these and other Palestinian refugees from their homes. These houses were built in 1956 after Palestinians were driven out of their homes when the state of Israel was established eight years earlier. Israel's Foreign Ministry dismisses the threatened forced displacements as a "real estate dispute" between private parties. However, the displacements in Sheikh Jarrah and other Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem cannot be separated from Israeli settlement construction in and around Jerusalem and the policy of limiting the number of Palestinian residents in the city. Israel also has plans to build new homes in the illegal settlements of Har Homa and Givat Hamatos, on the southern side of Jerusalem. The construction of this will cut off East Jerusalem from Bethlehem. It will further contribute to the ring of settlements that Israel has built around East Jerusalem since 1967 and isolate the Palestinian territories in the West Bank.
What PAX does
PAX works with local partner organizations around housing and residency rights in East Jerusalem. PAX and partners monitor violations and bring them to the attention of the diplomatic community. We also support affected families and civic initiatives working for the rights of Palestinian residents in East Jerusalem.
Want to stay up to date about the situation? Follow the hashtag #SaveSheikhJarrah on Twitter for updates.