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Palestinian man threatens to set home on fire over Israel eviction order in flashpoint al-Quds neighborhood

Palestinian men barricade themselves on the roof of a house in Sheikh Jarrah, al-Quds, as Israeli police prepare to evict a family from the same building, on January 17, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

A Palestinian man has threatened to set himself and his family on fire after Israeli police tried to forcibly evict them from their home in the East al-Quds neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

“We will not leave here, either we die or we live," Mohammed Salhiya shouted as he carried a gas canister onto the roof of his home on Monday, warning, "Whoever approaches, I will burn the house which is full of gas pipes, and I will bomb the house with whoever inside."

"We've been in this home since the 1950s," said another member of the Salhiya family from the rooftop, adding that the family is made up of 15 people, including children, and that they "don't have anywhere to go."

Israeli municipal authorities had issued an order to evict Salhiya from their house in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood to build a school in their place. Years-long attempts by the family to have the order revoked have failed.

In a joint statement, Israeli police and the municipality of al-Quds said that delegates went to Salhiya's home early Monday to carry out an eviction order after the family ignored "countless opportunities" to vacate the land.

However, Israeli police were in a standoff with the Palestinian man who climbed to the roof of the house and threatened to set himself and his family ablaze in the event of eviction.

Police said their "negotiators" were at Salhiya's house after several of its residents "began to fortify themselves with a gas canister and other flammable material."

Clashes erupted between security forces and locals after the police arrived but was later eased, witnesses told AFP.

Al-Quds city councilor Laura Wharton, who was at the scene, criticized the municipality's actions, saying, "They could have built the schools in the same plot without moving the families. There is plenty of space."

Norway condemns expulsion of of Palestinian family from their home

Following the Monday incident, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) issued a statement, calling on the Israeli authorities to immediately halt the forceful expulsion of the Palestinian family from their home.

“The international community has made clear that Israeli authorities should stop evictions and demolitions in East Jerusalem (al-Quds). International law clearly prohibits the forcible displacement and transfer of protected persons in occupied territory regardless of motive,” said Caroline Ort, NRC’s Country Director for Palestine.

She added, ““Five children face being left out on the street with their family in near-zero temperatures. They will have nowhere to sleep tonight. The eviction, should it be completed, would leave five children with nowhere to live in the middle of a winter cold snap; this cannot be allowed to happen.”

Salhiya's house is located near dozens of homes threatened with eviction, which the Israel's so-called supreme court has not yet issued a verdict regarding Israeli settlers’ request to evict Palestinian families.

Sheikh Jarrah has been the scene of frequent crackdowns by Israeli police on Palestinians protesting against the threatened expulsion of dozens of Palestinian families from their homes in favor of hardline Israeli settler groups.

Since Israel seized East al-Quds in the 1967 war, Israeli settler organizations have claimed ownership of land in Sheikh Jarrah and have filed multiple lawsuits to evict Palestinians from the area.

British Consul General in al-Quds: Evictions in occupied territory against intl. law

In a related development, British Consul General in al-Quds Diane Corner criticized Israel’s eviction of the Palestinian family from their home in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East al-Quds, stressing that such a measure in an occupied territory is against international humanitarian law.

Corner was among European diplomats who watched this morning as the Israeli municipality staff from West al-Quds tried to expel the Palestinian family from Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

“Evictions in Occupied Territory are against international humanitarian law in all but the most exceptional circumstances,” said the British Consul General in a tweet.

She urged the Tel Aviv regime “to cease such practices, which only serve to increase tensions on the ground.”

The threatened Sheikh Jarrah expulsions have also drawn international attention and sparked global outrage.

The land grab and evictions carried out by the Israeli authorities are seen as part of efforts to forcibly displace the Palestinians and change the demographic character of the occupied territories.

The Tel Aviv regime also regularly flattens Palestinian homes and structures in al-Quds under the pretext that they lack building permits.

However, Palestinians and rights groups say the moves are aimed at seizing more Palestinian lands to expand Israeli settlements.

Most of the international community considers Israeli settlement construction illegal under international law and an obstacle to the so-called two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Nearly 700,000 Israelis live in illegal settlements built since the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds.

The UN Security Council has in several resolutions condemned the Tel Aviv regime’s settlement projects in the occupied Palestinian lands.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent state with East al-Quds as its capital.

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