Residents of the East Jerusalem Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood have petitioned Israel’s High Court of Justice seeking the removal of police barricades at the entrance to the neighborhood.
Amid major tensions in the neighborhood over a pending eviction case in which a Jewish company is seeking to evict Palestinians living on land that had been owned by Jews prior to Israel's establishment, the Israel Police have placed restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in the neighborhood over the past two weeks, barring non-residents from entering Sheikh Jarrah.
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Palestinians and the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, which filed the High Court petition, claim that Jews are still freely permitted to enter the neighborhood. Restrictions on access to the neighborhood were further tightened in the wake of a car-ramming attack at one of the barricades on Sunday.
The court petition asserts that enforcing restrictions on freedom of movement into the neighborhood constitutes illegal discrimination against Palestinians.
Attorney George Kevorkian, who is the legal adviser to the Jerusalem District police, addressed the subject in a letter Wednesday to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. “The police are acting with authority and according to the law, while striking a complicated balance between the various rights in an equal manner towards all those coming to the neighborhood and living there,” he wrote.
The East Jerusalem neighborhood has been relatively quiet over the past few days.
A number of Palestinians families llving in Sheikh Jarrah are fighting their eviction by the company claiming ownership of the land on which they are living. The company's efforts come amid plans by Jewish organizations to move Jews into the neighborhood.
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The eviction case is also pending before the Israeli Supreme Court, which deferred a hearing on the matter by a month after a sharp rise in tensions in Jerusalem between Jews and Palestinians. The tensions culminated with Hamas fiiring rockets at Jerusalem last week from Gaza, which quickly led to the all-out military conflict between Israel and Hamas.