Rallies mark anniversary of Sheikh Jarrah eviction

Thousands took part in solidarity demonstrations across Israel.

sheikh jarrah protest 58 (photo credit: Adi Inbar)
sheikh jarrah protest 58
(photo credit: Adi Inbar)
Thousands of Jewish and Arab protesters took part in demonstrations held in cities and towns across the country on Friday, to show solidarity with the Arab residents of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah and the year-long protest against Israeli housing policies in the district.
The protests, which were held on the hottest weekend of the year, varied in size across Israel, with organizers estimating around 700 participants in Tel Aviv, 100 in Haifa, 60 in Beersheba, 100 in Wadi Ara, 100 in Taibe, 100 in Kfar Yassif and around two dozen in Ra’anana. Another 50 gathered in the Arab neighborhood of Dahmash on the outskirts of Ramle, where at least 13 homes are slated for demolition.
In Tel Aviv, protesters marched down Rothschild Boulevard, accompanied by MKs Haim Oron (Meretz), Ahmed Tibi (Ra’am –Ta’al) and Dov Henin (Hadash), as well as a number of Sheikh Jarrah residents and Israeli cultural and academic figures.
At the end of the march, demonstrators boarded buses for Sheikh Jarrah, where they and hundreds more took part in the weekly protest.
The “Day of Solidarity” was held to mark the one-year anniversary of the eviction of a Palestinian house in August 2009, which came following a 2008 ruling by the Jerusalem District Court which laid down that property in Sheikh Jarrah that was part of the former Jewish neighborhood of “Shimon Hatzadik” belonged to the Sephardi Community Committee. After the evictions, Sheikh Jarrah became the site of weekly protests, which continued to grow as the issue became for many a lightning rod for the battle over the future status of East Jerusalem.
The protest movement began to pick up steam following the arrest of 17 demonstrators at a Friday demonstration in January.
The Jerusalem District Court ruled that the arrest of activists was illegal and the protests lawful, even if they were held without a permit.
Sheikh Jarrah activist Avner Inbar, one of the organizers of Friday’s events, said it had been very successful and that “other than a rally in March that was attended by around 4,000 people, this was our biggest one yet.
Also, all these people took part on a day when there was extreme heat across Israel, when most people don’t even want to leave the house to go to the store.”
Inbar said he hoped the issue of Sheikh Jarrah would continue to grow in the public debate, and advance the cause of Arab and Jewish cooperation.
“We believe the issue of Arab and Jewish solidarity is a very important thing and hope that our efforts will show there is no such thing as a Jewish left wing. The left wing doesn’t need to be exclusively Jewish; it can bring in both Jews and Arabs.”