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Settler press conference and clash in Sheikh Jarrah

16 October 2010 | International Solidarity Movement

Thursday illegal settlers of the Umm Haroun Compound of Sheikh Jarrah, Jerusalem gave a press conference about their plans for the upcoming year. The Settlers’ Organization stated that they plan to build two new blocks of settlements and a holy tourist park of biblical archeology on the Palestinian owned land of East Jerusalem. The organization’s website has a one-year-plan on how to remove the Palestinian people from Umm Haroun.

Later in the evening there was a violent clash between settlers and Palestinians. Police arrived and arrested three Palestinians and one Israeli activist.

Sheikh Jarrah is home to about 3,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem, close to the 1967 border that separates East and West Jerusalem. The residents suffer from settler violence and several families have been unlawfully evicted from their homes, in the Israeli authorities’ effort to replace Palestinians with Israeli settlers and “Judaise” Jerusalem.

The Palestinian community organized a contra press conference to provide more information on the history of the area. Ownership of the land is disputed, according to the Israeli government, because Israeli laws recognize Jewish citizen’s assets from before 1948, but don’t allow claims to Palestinian assets prior to 1948.

In the late 1990s, Jewish settler groups began seizing buildings and settling compounds in the neighborhood. One of these compounds is a plot of 70 acres in which twenty-eight Palestinian refugee families whose homes were taken in 1948, came to live. These refugees were given houses by the Jordanian government and the UN during the 1950s in exchange for renouncing their refugee status and the rights and welfare that go with that status.

These Israeli laws, founded in racism, were used to forcefully evict three Palestinian families from their homes in 2009. In August and November a large number of Israeli police and border police blocked sections in East Jerusalem in order to evict the Palestinian families by force. These families still are unable to return home.

After the press conference, young Palestinian boys from the group “Batizado Caipoera” made a performance in Caipoera (martial arts) to symbolize their struggle for ownership of their land.

For more information about the problems in Sheikh Jarrah you can read on: http://www.en.justjlm.org/.