Israel Police violently dispersed a peaceful protest in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah on Friday, detaining three demonstrators.
Hundreds of Palestinians and left-wing protesters marched toward the home of the Salem family, who are set to be evicted in January, but the police blocked their route, using physical force and stun grenades. Prior to the police crack down, there were no signs of violence from the protesters.
Following the arrest of three activists, several dozen people arrived to protest in front of Shalem police station on Sultan Suleiman street in east Jerusalem, and the police again used force to disperse them.
The police have issued a statement in response to the events, saying there were "disturbances" and that forces "pushed back on protesters after they failed to follow dispersal orders. Three individuals were arrested for blocking an intersection and disturbing a police officer. We will continue to allow lawful protests but will not permit civil disturbance or violence against officers."
Such protests against the Judaization of Sheikh Jarrah have occurred for around 12 years, but tensions have been especially high amid the imminent eviction of 11 members of the Salem family, who have been living in their home for the past 70 years.
The family was slated for eviction this Thursday, but police asked the court registrar to postpone the eviction, citing a security risk.
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Before 1948, the house had belonged to a Jewish family, and the Salem family leased the house from the Jordanian custodian of enemy property from 1951.
After the Six Day War the house passed to the Israeli Custodian General, who returned it to its Jewish heirs. The lawyers acting for the Jewish heirs were financed by a right-wing NGO working to evict Palestinians and populate the neighborhood with Jews.
Some of the Jewish heirs sold their part of the property to the NGO. Recently right-wing activist and city council member Yonatan Yosef bought the rights to the building, and served an eviction notice to the family earlier in December.
Right-wing NGOs have sought to use the Absentee Property Law to reclaim Jewish property left behind enemy lines in 1948, though the same right does not extend to Palestinians.
The case of Sheikh Jarrah has become a rallying point for the Palestinian cause in the past year, with 22 European diplomats visited the site amid the increased media attention.
The head of the European Union’s mission to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff, visited the Salem family and blasted the eviction as “inhuman and unfair.”
In November, a group of residents of the neighborhood rejected a compromise that had been proposed by Israel's Supreme Court. The plan would have allowed them to remain in their homes for at least 15 years, in exchange for recognizing the ownership interests of a settler group to which they would have to pay nominal rent.