Zionist police demolish Palestinian home in east Beit-ul-Moqaddas eviction
Beit-ul-Moqaddas - Israeli police demolished a Palestinian family's home and arrested at least 18 people as they carried out a controversial eviction order in the sensitive east Beit-ul-Moqaddas neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah early Wednesday (Jan 19).
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Before dawn, Israeli officers went to the home of the Salhiya family, who were first served with an eviction notice in 2017, after courts ruled the house had been built illegally.
Beit-ul-Moqaddas authorities have said the land will be used to build a school for children with special needs, but the eviction may raise tension in a neighborhood that has become a symbol of Palestinian opposition to Israeli occupation.
Beit-ul-Moqaddas deputy mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum told AFP Wednesday the dispute surrounding the Salhiya's home is "completely different" from the events in May, when Palestinians risked being forced to hand over plots of land to Jewish settlers.
Israeli police said they had "completed the execution of an eviction order of illegal buildings built on grounds designated for a school for children with special needs".
"Members of the family living in the illegal buildings were given countless opportunities to hand over the land with consent," a police statement said.
A police spokesman told AFP 18 family members and supporters were arrested for "violating a court order, violent fortification and disturbing public order," but no clashes took place during the eviction.
When police arrived to carry out the order on Monday, Salhiya family members went up to the building's roof with gas canisters, threatening to set the contents and themselves alight if they were forced out of their home.
Police returned early on Wednesday amid heavy rainfall in Beit-ul-Moqaddas.
Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that Israel had "uprooted" the family.
"Israel continues to wage a merciless war on the Palestinian people," the minister said, decrying what he alleged was Israeli "impunity".
Gilad Erdan, Israel's ambassador to the UN, retorted that it was a "municipal issue" and said the family "stole public lands for their own private use".
Salhiya family lawyer Walid Abu-Tayeh told AFP the police had "illegally" arrested 20 people during the operation, six of them Israeli citizens, with the latter being released, adding that "the Arab detainees were assaulted."
The authorities "want to liquidate the (Palestinian) population" of Beit-ul-Moqaddas, he said.
Abu-Tayeh also confirmed reports that the Palestinian father Mahmud Salhiya is married to an Israeli Jew, named Meital.
In an audio recording distributed to local Arab-language media, Meital, who speaks Arabic, said the family was woken early Wednesday by the sound of loud booms and police had cut the electricity.
"They took me out of the house with my daughter and children who were crying, and arrested my husband and all the young men," she said.
Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules the Gaza Strip, blasted the demolition as an Israeli act of "aggression".
The Palestinian Authority, based in the occupied West Bank, called it a "crime", as part of the Jewish state's move to "Israelise" Beit-ul-Moqaddas.
Deputy mayor Hassan-Nahoum told AFP the plot that the Salhiya family claim as theirs belonged to private Palestinian owners who then sold it to the city, "for very adequate compensation."
The municipality plans to build "a much-needed special needs school for Arab children from the neighborhood," she said.
Human Rights Watch Israel and Palestine director Omar Shakir labelled "the forcible expulsion" of the Salhiya family as "war crimes." He noted that the family had previously been forced from their west Beit-ul-Moqaddas home during Israel's creation in 1948, and Wednesday's eviction made them "two-time refugees".
Hundreds of Palestinians face eviction from homes in Sheikh Jarrah and other east Beit-ul-Moqaddas neighborhoods. Circumstances surrounding the eviction threats vary.
In some cases, Jewish Israelis have lodged legal claims to plots they say were illegally taken during the war that accompanied Israel's creation in 1948.
Israeli law allows Jewish Israelis to file such claims, but no equivalent law exists for Palestinians who lost land during the conflict.
Palestinians facing eviction say their homes were legally purchased from Jordanian authorities who controlled east Beit-ul-Moqaddas between 1948 and 1967.
Israel captured east Beit-ul-Moqaddas in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it, in a move not recognized by the international community.
More than 200,000 Jewish settlers have since moved into the city's eastern sector, fueling tensions with Palestinians, who claim it as the capital of their future state.