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Occupation Forces Issue Demolition order for Al-Aqsa Imam

Occupied East Jerusalem

     On December 3, Israeli Occupation forces converged on the Sawaneh neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem evicting its residents and pinning intention-of-demolition orders to all families in the building albeit their target was solely the home of one of Al-Aqsa Mosque’s main Imams, Sheikh Ekrima Sabri.  The order affects 18 homes, ultimately impacting over 100 Palestinian residents of the building.

(Photo credit: Anadolu Agency 3/12/23)

     Noted in Hebrew, the demolition orders state, “In order to minimize damage, you must immediately remove possessions from said premises.  If you do not, the state will not be responsible for damages.”  The titled headline announces, “We hereby affirm you of our intent to demolish the house according to court order.” 

     Sheikh Sabri is no stranger to incitement against his person and property as he has been the subject of the arbitrary harassment, arrest, and imprisonment which has become the signature of the occupier whose very existence depends on silencing liberatory voices representative of justice and dignity for the Palestinian people, including when the 85 year old Imam’s home was stormed by occupation forces who imposed a 6 month travel ban for the stated reason that he had been deemed a “security threat.”

     With several families residing in the building being the recipients of this same demolition order which will displace them as a consequence of the targeting of Sheikh Sabri, it is again evidenced that the Israeli government, Israeli authorities and the Israeli occupation forces are in violation of International Humanitarian Law, specifically Article 33 on collective punishment.  The article states, in no uncertain terms, that “Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.” Thus, the purveyors of prolific violations of human rights of an entire people continue to be rewarded for their troubles with impunity, copious funding and arms provisions to wage further war crimes, genocide and countless other daily transgressions.  For now and the immediate future while whatever veneer of an appeals process accessible to Palestinians saddled with notices of home demolitions is acted out, their already daily lot has been made heavier with this additional form of torment.  

     Reports from across the occupied West Bank flash across the eyes of the world like a disturbing stop-motion reality; settler incursions, beatings, murders, abductions, theft, vandalism and death threats.  One of the most heinous tributaries of such threats floated Sheikh Sabri’s name across it just one month ago.  

     The extremist settler Telegram channel “Nazi-Hunters, known for incitement to murder Palestinians across the occupied territories as well as inside of Israel has named Sheikh Sabri as a target, joining him with the journalists, student activists, Al-Aqsa administrative workers and others being targeted for terror attacks and death ostensibly for ‘Nazism,’ which has become code among violent ideological zionists projected onto Palestinians and allies resisting oppression and occupation.  

Screenshot of “Nazi Hunters” Telegram channel. Photo credit: Middle East Eye

     The channel displays images of Palestinians with crosshairs placed over their faces, encouraging the choir to circulate the calls for murder, “share a lot maybe it will reach the Nazis themselves and they will kill themselves out of fear.”  

     As noted by UNRWA’s Demolition Watch site, home demolitions are a leading cause of Palestinian’s continued displacement and their toll on families cannot be overstated, “The impact of home demolitions on children can be particularly devastating. Many children affected by demolitions show signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety.”  The effect leaves emotional wreckage long after the rubble from the felled house has been cleared.