Israel Police Impose Ongoing Closure of Kerem Al'ajoni section of Sheikh Jarrah

19 May 2021
For almost two weeks, the Israel Police has essentially cordoned off the Kerem Al'ajoni section (eastern part) of Sheikh Jarrah, where hundreds of Palestinians who are under threat of forced eviction reside. Access to the area has been increasingly obstructed by a heavy presence of armed police and paramilitary forces, which only exacerbates the current unrest. Since Friday, closure of the area has greatly intensified: entry of supporters of  Palestinian residents is prohibited due to the so-called risk of clashes, yet these restrictions are not imposed on supporters of Jewish settlers living in the area, allowing them freedom of movement to and from the neighborhood.

Scores of Palestinians have gathered in the area in recent weeks to demonstrate against the pending evictions of Palestinian families in favor of state-sponsored settler groups, which has garnered immense local and international attention. The closure of the neighborhood is seen as an intentional brazen move by the Israeli authorities to suppress Palestinian mobilization and deprive the residents of Sheikh Jarrah of the freedom of expression and the right to protest against their forced displacement.

The Palestinian families at risk of eviction are now essentially living inside a cordoned-off, military-like zone. They are subject to ongoing arbitrary harassment and aggressive police measures, marked by forced entry into homes and the use of stun grenades, skunk water, and rubber-tipped bullets against neighborhood residents. With the closure's intensification, police often force residents to stay in their homes and hostilely remove those sitting outside as is common practice in the neighborhood. Yesterday, a 15-year-old girl was severely wounded inside the confines of her own home when a soldier wantonly fired rubber-tipped bullets into the family's house.   

These actions not only further inflame tensions, but constitute a grave violation of basic rights of Sheikh Jarrah residents. Last week, Ir Amim along with ACRI sent an urgent letter to the police, demanding they lift the neighborhood's closure and refrain from hostile measures which lead to further incitement. A response has not yet been received.