Israel postpones expulsion of Palestinian family

A group of activists sit on the ground surrounded by police

Israeli police violently disperse Palestinians and supporters during demonstrations in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah on 18 February 2022. 

Oren Ziv ActiveStills

An Israeli court has temporarily postponed the forced expulsion of a Palestinian family from their home scheduled for March.

The timing of the expulsion at the start of Ramadan worried Israeli police, Tel Aviv daily Haaretz reported. They presumably feared it would spark a full-scale confrontation with Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem.

It was in the last days of Ramadan and the beginning of Eid al-Fitr last year that Israel launched an 11-day offensive against the Gaza Strip.

The May 2021 confrontation was sparked by Israel’s attempt to forcibly evict other families out of their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

Israel’s decision to delay the forcible displacement of the Salem family should be understood as merely an attempt to buy time in the hope that media attention will shift away.

In fact, the court is forcing the Salem family to pay a deposit of almost $8,000 for the freeze to take effect, Haaretz reported.

The Salem family has lived in their home in the Umm Haroun area of Sheikh Jarrah since the 1950s, when East Jerusalem was under Jordanian administration.

If Israeli occupation authorities proceed with the expulsion, 12 Palestinians will become homeless – half of them children.

Itamar Ben-Gvir, an extreme-right Israeli lawmaker, set up a makeshift “office” on the lawn outside the family’s home earlier this month, provoking confrontations.

Israel fired rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas canisters and stun grenades at Palestinians in the area, injuring dozens.

Although the family has temporarily breathed a sigh of relief, tensions remain high.

Ben-Gvir’s encampment is still set up in the neighborhood, protected by Israeli occupation forces in an area accessible only to members of the Knesset, journalists and local residents.

Meanwhile, Israeli police attacked a Palestinian man with Down syndrome. A video of the attack on Muhammad al-Ajlouni went viral on social media earlier this week.

Israel’s pullback from Sheikh Jarrah is a brief tactical retreat. In no way does it indicate that Israel will not push forward with its efforts to ethnically cleanse Palestinians as soon as it feels it can do so with less attention.

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Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.