Setters Violence backed by IOF: Journalist and Paramedic Injured During IOF and Settlers’ Widescale Attacks on Sheikh Jarrah Neighborhood in Jerusalem
Date: 14 February 2022
Time: 12:39 GMT
Two Palestinians, including a journalist and a paramedic, sustained rubber bullet wounds, other Palestinians suffocated and sustained bruises, and at least 15 Palestinians were arrested by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) while protecting a group of settlers in their rampant violence and land appropriations in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns settlers’ attacks under IOF’s protection and warns against the Israeli occupation’s plan to forcibly transfer Palestinians within the settlement activity projects in the occupied City.
According to PCHR’s investigation, on Saturday evening, 12 February 2022, dozens of Israeli settlers, under IOF protection, gathered in western Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, north of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, and stormed a plot of land belonging to Salem family that is threatened with evacuation from their house and land. This coincided with the Israeli Knesset Member and extremist Itamar Ben Gvir’s intention to move his office next day to Salem family land. A group of settlers arrived at the neighborhood, spread at its entrance, threw stones at Palestinians and directly pepper-sprayed their faces, and damaged their property and vehicles parked on the streets. All those assaults happened under protection of IOF, who secured the settlers, but suppressed the neighborhood residents, beat them up, fired sound bombs at them, and arrested 6 of them. At approximately 10:30 on Sunday, 13 February 2022, Itamar Ben Gvir arrived at Salem family land, stirring up tension in the neighborhood. Afterwards, IOF immediately imposed a tight closure on the area and deployed police officers, mounted police, a skunk carrying vehicle and special Israeli forces around the neighborhood and on its main and sub roads. Also, IOF closed the area with red tapes amid deployment of police patrols all over the streets and roads. Moreover, IOF prevented dozens of Palestinians and activists in solidarity with Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood from reaching it. IOF banned movement in the neighborhood, placed several iron barriers around Salem family land, and denied residents’ access to the land while settlers were allowed to move freely. After Ben Gvir finished his tour in the neighborhood, he declared that he would continue his parliamentary work in the tent that was established by the settlers to welcome him in Salem Family land. Ben Gvir then received extremist settler Baruch Marzel, Deputy Mayor Aryeh King, and dozens of settlers in the tent, performed prayers, danced, and fixed Israeli banners and flags in the place. In the meantime, they beat up, threw chairs and pepper-sprayed Salem family, who were in front of their house. IOF then stormed the place and joined the settlers in their assaults on Salem family, forcing the family to go back in their house. IOF arrested the family’s son, Khalil, and provided full protection for the settlers and Ben Gvir.
Over the afternoon and until 23:00, the clashes recurred in the area as the settlers attacked the Palestinian civilians, activists in solidarity and journalists by beating and pepper-spraying them as well as throwing stones and chairs at them. They also threw stones at the buses passing near the neighborhood, minorly wounding 3 passengers due to glass shards. IOF raided Salem family house more than once and made the activists leave by force, including MK Ahmed al-Tibi and Naser Qaws, Director of the Palestinian Prisoner Club (PPC) in Jerusalem, who were both wounded when Aryeh King, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, attacked them. IOF also used rubber-coated metal bullets, skunk water and sound bombs to disperse civilians and residents more than once and prevented them from raising the Palestinian flag and continuing their sit-in in front of Salem family land. Meanwhile, IOF allowed settlers to insult Prophet Mohammed and chant slogans against Arabs and Muslims via loudspeakers.
IOF arrested 8 civilians from the neighborhood, and they were identified as: Ahmed ‘Omran ‘Akkah, ‘Abdullah Dabash, Mohammed ‘Atef Marzouq, ‘Ahed Shweiki, Qosay Ja’afrah, Saif Halsah, ‘Arafat Jawad Barqan, Malek al-Taweel, Ibrahim Maz’aru, and Ayoub al-Joulani. During the clashes, IOF wounded photojournalist Rami al-Khatib with a sound bomb in his foot and paramedic Ahmed al-Rokon with rubber bullet in his thigh.
It should be noted that Ben Gvir was also well-known for enticing tense when he wanted to open an office for him in the neighborhood and during setters’ attempt to expel Karam JA’ouni families in the neighborhood. These incidents caused violent clashes in the West Bank and were behind the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip last May.
The attacks by settlers, IOF and Jerusalem Municipality have recently recurred against the residents of Sheikh Jarrah and their property. Settlers attacked the residents tens of times while the municipality seized 4 dunums belonging to Palestinian families in the area allegedly for public interest. Moreover, the Israeli authorities demolished 2 houses and 5 facilities and violently seized 6 dunums belonging to Salihiya family in Karam al-Mufti area in the neighborhood on 19 January 2022, allegedly for the public interest as well. IOF also seized 30 dunums in northern Sheikh Jarrah in favor of establishing the national gardens.
PCHR condemns settlers’ violence and stresses that IOF should be held accountable for this systematic violence, which is supported by a political decision to seize Palestinian lands and property within a systematic policy aiming at perpetuating settlement activity in occupied Jerusalem.
PCHR warns of the Israeli repeated attempts aiming at displacing Palestinians from their lands through demolishing or confiscating their houses and property within a de facto policy to change the demographic characteristics of the occupied city.
PCHR recalls in this instance that Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 prohibits the “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not…, regardless of their motive.”
Except, “if the security of the population or imperative military reasons so demand.” Additionally, Article 7.1.d of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court stipulates that deportation or forcible transfer of population when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population is a crime against humanity. Also, Articles 6, 7, and 8 of the Rome Statute stipulate that deportation or forcible transfer are war crimes.
PCHR calls upon the international community and United Nations bodies to proactively intervene to end the Israeli crimes against Palestinians and to provide them with the required protection.