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Rights group urges Israel to remove checkpoints in Sheikh Jarrah

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Israeli regime forces pin a Palestinian man in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of al-Quds, February 14, 2022.

A rights group has called on Israel ‘supreme court’ to put pressure on the Tel Aviv regime to remove the checkpoints erected at the entrances to the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of the occupied East al-Quds.

Adalah, also known as the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, in a petition on behalf of Sheikh Jarrah residents, demanded the immediate dismantlement of all the checkpoints in and around the western part of the neighborhood.

Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara said in the petition that the erection of checkpoints constitutes collective punishment. “Placing the checkpoints in Sheikh Jarrah is racist, illegal and fundamentally unacceptable. The checkpoints serve as collective punishment and as an attempt to prevent legitimate protests and support for Palestinian families threatened with forced eviction. The police have no authority to set up these checkpoints, and the Supreme Court must order their immediate removal.”

Zakaria Odeh, General Director of the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights, said Israeli police’s treatment of the Palestinian residents was racist and violent. “Making the lives of Sheikh Jarrah residents unbearable is part of a comprehensive, systemic effort to make them concede in their just struggle to continue to live in their homeland. The police use racist and violent measures towards the residents of East Jerusalem, and protect settlers, who are using all means to achieve their goal of deepening the ongoing displacement and dispossession of Palestinians.”

Officers posted at the checkpoints block the entry of non-resident Palestinians into Sheikh Jarrah, and at the same time they grant access to organized groups of Israeli settlers.

Israeli forces along with armed settlers have attacked Palestinian residents of the neighborhood on a number of occasions over the past few weeks.

Tensions have been boiling after a far-right Israeli lawmaker, Ben Gvir, opened a parliamentary office in the neighborhood in what was described as an effort to exacerbate the situation in the district.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates then condemned Ben Gvir’s step as a “provocative and escalating move that threatens to ignite violence.” The ministry said the failure of the international community and the UN Security Council to take necessary measures to compel Israel to stop its occupation of al-Quds encourages the occupying regime to forge ahead with its colonial Judaization projects in the Holy City.

Sheikh Jarrah has been a flash point witnessing frequent crackdowns by Israeli forces on the Palestinians protesting against the threatened expulsion of dozens of Palestinian families from their homes in favor of Israeli settler groups.

Since Israel seized East al-Quds in a 1967 war, Israeli settler organizations have claimed ownership of land in Sheikh Jarrah and have filed multiple lawsuits to evict Palestinians from the area. Much of the international community considers the Israeli settlement structures illegal under the international law due to their construction on occupied territory.

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