The fate of six families from a neighborhood in East Jerusalem is one of the main triggers for the current violence between Palestinians and Israelis:
What began as a series of riots against plans to evict those families in Sheikh Jarrah has escalated to the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel, and the response by Israeli forces with air strikes on Gaza.
But what exactly does Sheikh Jarrah’s neighborhood represent in all of this?
A disputed neighborhood
Sheikh Jarrah is a Palestinian neighborhood in the part east jerusalem.
But now a group of Jewish settlers is claiming some of their land and property in Israeli courts, hence the threat of eviction about Palestinian families.
- Escalation of violence between Israelis and Palestinians leaves 53 dead in Gaza and 6 in Israel
To understand this claim, we have to go until 1948, when after the first Arab-Israeli war Jerusalem was divided into two parts: East Jerusalem, under Arab control; and West Jerusalem, in the hands of Israel.
The eastern part of Jerusalem remained under Jordanian control from then until 1967, when during the Six Day War, Israel took effective control of the entire city.
The old city is located in East Jerusalem, where some of the holiest religious places in the world: the Dome of the Rock and the Muslims’ own Al Aqsa Mosque; the Temple Mount and the Wailing Wall of the Jewish religion and the Holy Sepulcher of the Christian religion.
And outside the walls of the old city sits Sheikh Jarrah.
“The importance of Sheikh Jarrah lies in the fact that it is one of the main Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and the Palestinians have complained in recent years about the growing number of Jewish settlers arriving,” Mohamed Yehia, editor of the service, explains to BBC Mundo. Arabic from the BBC.
Sheikh Jarrah is a fairly well-off area and several foreign countries, including the UK, have their diplomatic missions to the Palestinians there.
“It is also right on the green line that separates the two sides of Jerusalem, therefore contiguous with the territory of Israel and therefore tempting,” adds Jeremy Bowen, BBC Middle East editor. .
Who does Sheikh Jarrah belong to?
In practice, the division of Jerusalem in 1948 meant that Palestinians living in the west and Jews living in the east had to leave their homes.
Today many Palestinian families are evicted from their homes under two controversial Israeli laws.
On the one hand, the call Absentee Property Law it allows Israel to seize property from Palestinians who, according to Israel, abandoned or fled their homes during the conflict.
On the other, the Law on Legal and Administrative Affairs it allows Jews who can demonstrate pre-1948 title to their property to reclaim their property in Jerusalem.
“In most cases, the representatives of the settlers try to evict Palestinians from their homes by applying Israeli law that allows Jews to claim ownership of houses that they or other Jews owned before 1948,” explains Yehia .
“Israeli law allows Jews to claim Jewish property before the 1948 war, but prohibits Palestinians from recovering property they lost in the same war, even if they still reside in Israeli-controlled areas,” he adds.
This implies that the Palestinians cannot take back what were their homes in the western part of the city before 1948.
In the case of Palestinian families at risk of eviction in Sheikh Jarrah, a lower court ruling this year backed the settlers’ claim, sparking the ire of the Palestinians.
Israel’s Supreme Court was due to hold a hearing on the case on Monday, but the session was postponed due to unrest.
“The precise legal status of land ownership is subject to a recently postponed Supreme Court ruling,” Bowen adds.
“It was owned by Jews before the 1948 war, which left Jerusalem divided. A settler organization acquired title to the land and started a legal process to obtain it. Their plan is to install Jewish settlers.”
“I doubt that the Palestinians will agree to leave, and I also highly doubt that the settler groups will abandon their claim.”
And those conflicting positions have been seen during the riots in the area in recent days.
“They would have to kill us … that’s the only way for us to leave,” Abdelfatteh Iskafi, a resident of Sheikh Jarrah, told Reuters.
Nuha Attieh, 58, said she fears her family will lose their home if the ruling stands.
“I am afraid for my house, for my children, I am afraid for everything.”
Palestinians say they have lived in this Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood since the 1950s, when they were relocated there by Jordan after the war.
“This is a Jewish country. They want to control it,” one of the settlers, who gave only Eden’s name, told Reuters on Tuesday, pointing to the Palestinians across the street.
But for Jeremy Bowen, what is happening in Jerusalem, and specifically in Sheikh Jarrah, is more than a dispute over a handful of homes.
- Why the new wave of violence between Israelis and Palestinians was really “inevitable”
Nor is it anything new, since “the eviction of Palestinians for the expansion of Jewish settlements or access roads or Israeli security is common,” he explains to BBC Mundo.
However, what happens in Sheikh Jarrah symbolizes the struggle for one of the central points in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the East Jerusalem destination.
“Sheikh Jarrah is a symbol for both sides of Israel’s strategic objective of making Jerusalem more Jewish,” Bowen tells BBC Mundo.
Israel regards the entire city as its capital, although it is not recognized as such by most of the international community.
Thus, in recent years, the Israeli government and settler groups have worked to settle Jews in Palestinian areas near the old city.
For their part, the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the future capital of a long-awaited independent state.
Remember that you can receive notifications from BBC News Mundo. Download the new version of our app and activate them so you don’t miss out on our best content.