Sheikh Jarrah Palestinian residents take turns guarding their homes

Tensions escalate in East Jerusalem neighborhood.

Amid the Israeli authorities’ repeated attempts to evict the residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem so they can demolish their homes and build settlement units, Jerusalemite families in the neighborhood have been taking turns guarding their homes around the clock, for fear of attacks by extremist Zionist settlers and the Israeli army.

But despite the locals’ efforts, Israeli police managed to evict Palestinian families from a disputed property in the neighborhood Jan. 19. 

Sheikh Jarrah, where tensions between Palestinians and Israeli peaked last year, made the headlines again in recent weeks, after the residents of the neighborhood unanimously rejected on Nov. 2, 2021, a compromise deal proposed by the Israeli Supreme Court, to consider the residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood to be “protected tenants” at the settlement association “Nahalat Shimon.” The residents considered the deal to be the gradual confiscation of the homes and lands of the neighborhood.

In 1956, 28 Palestinian families who were displaced from their occupied lands in 1948 were relocated to the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, according to an agreement between the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the Jordanian government.

Mahmoud Salhiya, a resident of the neighborhood whose house is threatened with confiscation, told Al-Monitor, “Since my family was expelled from the village of Ein Kerem in 1948, we have been living in fear in the Karam al-Mufti area of Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood due to Israeli threats and incursions. My sons and I take turns guarding our home, where 17 people live, for fear of an attack or a sudden incursion by the army or settlers.”