The Global Network for the Question of Palestine (GNQP) is gravely concerned about the continued and escalating attacks on Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah and elsewhere in the occupied Palestinian territory and is closely monitoring the situation.
On Sunday night, the Israeli occupying forces and Israeli settlers carried out repeated violent attacks against Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem. Palestinian residents of the neighborhood described the escalation of attacks as a “war zone”. At least 31 people were injured, including aid workers and a journalist, after Israeli occupying forces fired stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets at the Palestinian crowd. Twelve Palestinians were arrested.
The immediate cause of the latest attacks is the threatened expulsion of the Palestinian Salem family in the neighborhood. A group of Israeli settlers, led by Israeli parliamentarian, Itamar Ben-Gvir, had pitched a tent on Sunday morning on the land next to the Salem family’s house and set up a makeshift so-called “parliamentary office” there. This is not the first time Ben-Gvir has taken this provocative step. In May of 2021, threatened expulsions of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah led to mass Palestinian mobilization as part of the Unity Intifada across historic Palestine and by refugees in exile, Ben-Gvir also opened a temporary office in the neighborhood, explicitly using this platform to provoke and incite against the Palestinian residents in the area. The far-right parliamentarian was also involved last week, in an attempt by Israeli settlers to set up a new settler colony on land belonging to a Palestinian village in the Naqab (Negev desert).
The Israeli settlers who accompanied Ben-Gvir sang racist, Islamophobic songs, provoked members of the Salem family and repeatedly attacked them, including with pepper spray. The 75-year-old Fatima Salem was injured in the process. Thereafter, a group of Palestinians gathered in the neighborhood to show support for the Salem family. During the evening, confrontations broke out between the two groups. Israeli troops then closed all access roads to the house.
Because of the parallels with the uprising last May, it is feared that the weekend’s attacks will lead to another Israeli military escalation. Further Israeli attacks have been recorded in the northern West Bank, since last week, when three Palestinian militants were killed in an Israeli military ambush in Nablus City on 8 February, amounting to extrajudicial executions by the occupying power. And on Sunday night, 13 February, Israeli occupying authorities punitively demolished the home of Palestinian prisoner Mahmoud Jaradat in the West Bank village of Silat al-Harithiya, near Jenin. In the clashes that erupted during the demolition, a 17-year-old Palestinian Muhammad Abu Salah was killed, seemingly by Israeli fire.
The GNQP calls for an immediate end to attacks by the Israeli occupying forces, including Israeli settler violence, provocations, and aggressions against the Palestinian civilian population in Sheikh Jarrah and the remainder of the occupied Palestinian territory.