Twenty-two Palestinians were injured in overnight clashes with Israeli police in annexed East Jerusalem, the Red Crescent said Thursday, as tensions erupt over a controversial land rights case.
Police have confirmed 11 arrests in recent unrest in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood near Jerusalem’s walled Old City, where land disputes between Palestinians and Jewish settlers have fueled hostility for years.
Palestinian protests, which began Wednesday evening, continued until the wee hours of the morning.
The legal case centers on the homes of four Palestinian families on land claimed by Jews.
Earlier this year, a Jerusalem district court ruled that the homes were legally owned by Jewish families, citing purchases decades ago.
The Jewish plaintiffs claimed that their families lost the land during the war that accompanied the creation of Israel in 1948, a conflict that also saw hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced from their homes.
Palestinian families involved in the case have provided evidence that their homes were acquired from the Jordanian authorities who controlled East Jerusalem from 1948 to 1967.
Amman intervened in the case, providing documents in support of Palestinian claims.
Israel seized East Jerusalem in 1967 and annexed it later, in a move unrecognized by most of the international community.
The district court ruling infuriated Palestinians under Sheikh Jarrah, who saw it as a further step in what they see as an effort by Jewish settlers to drive Arabs out of East Jerusalem.
Weeks of clashes that saw police use Skunk water cannons and deploy mounted riot police have resulted in several arrests.
– ‘We reject this’ –
Israel’s Supreme Court ordered the parties to seek a compromise.
Sami Irshid, an attorney for the Palestinians, said the Nahalat Shimon settler movement had proposed that one member of each affected Palestinian family be recognized as a “protected tenant”.
This would temporarily delay the eviction until the protected tenant’s death, in which case the house would return to Nahalat Shimon, Irshid said.
“We reject this completely,” Mona al-Kurd, one of the Palestinian residents, told AFP.
“The settlers want us to recognize their property rights, it’s impossible. “
Yehonatan Yosef, an activist for Nahalat Shimon, accused Palestinian families of rejecting “any compromise.”
“It’s their problem,” he said, noting that if the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the settlers, Jewish families would do whatever they wanted with every plot.
The Supreme Court has said that if the parties fail to come to a compromise, it will decide whether the Palestinians can appeal the decision of the district court.
An appeal process could take years.
Mohammed Deif, the reclusive leader of the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, issued a rare public warning on Tuesday, saying Israel would pay a “high price” for the Sheikh Jarrah conflict.
Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as their future capital, while Israel views the entire city as its “undivided capital”.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki sent a letter to the International Criminal Court urging it to “take a clear and public stand against the crimes perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian people in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood”.
© 2021 AFP