Two days after the Salahiya family had barricaded themselves in their home with gas cylinders, Jerusalem police surprised them overnight Wednesday and they were evacuated. The family was evacuated from the compound in Shimon HaTzadik (Sheikh Jarrah) neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem following a ruling of the city district court supporting the Jerusalem municipality’s plan to establish a special education school and six kindergartens there (Jerusalem Arab Barricaded on Rooftop Threatens to Blow Up his Family as Police Attempt their Evacuation).
A large number of police officers arrived at the compound at 3:30 AM and evacuated the tenants. Later, bulldozers arrived and demolished the house. According to left-wing Israelis and PA Arab activists who were barricaded inside the house, the police used extreme violence and stun grenades, and arrested 18 individuals, five of them Israelis.
Muhammad and Meital Salahiya have been living in a large compound in the Shimon HaTzadik neighborhood for decades. Muhammad claims that his father purchased the land before 1967. The state has claimed that the area is part of the “Mufti’s vineyard,” land that belonged to Adolf Hitler’s favorite Muslim, Haj Amin al-Husseini, and was therefore expropriated under the Absentee Landlord Law and the family has no rights to it.
A year ago, Jerusalem District Court Judge Anat Singer ruled in favor of the municipality and determined that the family members could be evacuated. Last week, the family’s lawyer filed an urgent request to prevent the eviction, claiming that the order applies only to the couple and not to other family members who also live in the compound. Judge Einat Avman-Müller entertained this bizarre, desperate claim and requested the municipality’s response, but refrained from issuing an injunction against the eviction.
Israel Police and the Jerusalem Municipality issued the following statement:
This morning (Wednesday, 19 January 2022), the Israel Police has been carrying out an eviction order of illegal buildings built on grounds designated for a school for children with special needs from eastern Jerusalem.
The evacuation of the area has been approved by all the courts, including the Jerusalem District Court. Since the evacuation order was issued in 2017, members of the family living in the illegal buildings were given countless opportunities to hand over the land with consent, but unfortunately, they refused to do so, even after meetings and repeated dialog attempts by the Jerusalem municipality.
The evacuation began on Sunday, January 16, 2022, and continued in the early hours of Wednesday morning, January 19, 2022. Several people were arrested for questioning on suspicion of violating a court order, violent fortification, and disturbing public order.
These illegal buildings had been preventing the construction of a school that can benefit the children of the entire Sheikh Jarrah community.
The family’s illegal takeover of public space prevented hundreds of children with special needs from eastern Jerusalem from receiving an educational service that the municipality seeks to provide.
The statement included a link to an article on the Jerusalem municipality’s website describing the plans for the compound: The Jerusalem Municipality is promoting a historic plan to establish an educational complex for children with special needs from East Jerusalem.