Palestinians, settlers clash in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood
Palestinians Jewish settlers hurled stones, chairs, fireworks at each other overnight in a tense Jerusalem neighborhood where settler groups are trying to evict several Palestinian families, officials said Tuesday.
The threatened evictions fueled protests clashes in the runup to last month’s 11-day Gaza war pose a test for Israel’s new governing coalition, which includes three pro-settler parties but is hoping to sideline the Palestinian issue to avoid internal divisions.
Israeli police border officials said they arrested four suspects in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. It was unclear who started the brawl. One woman was reportedly injured when she was hit in the back by a stone, police said.
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The Red Crescent emergency service said its crews treated 20 Palestinians, including 16 suffering from pepper spray tear gas others wounded by rubber-coated bullets. Two other people were wounded, including an elderly man who was hit in the head, it said.
The Red Crescent said settlers threw stones at one of its ambulances Israeli forces sprayed skunk water on a second ambulance belonging to the service.
The eruption of violence is the latest friction in Sheikh Jarrah, where weeks of unrest captured international attention ahead of the 11-day Israel-Hamas war last month. The cease-fire took effect on May 21, but the long-running campaign by Jewish settlers to evict dozens of Palestinian families continues.
And so the cycle of tension endures, in a stark early test for Israel’s new coalition government, which is just over a week old.
At the helm under a rotation agreement is Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the right-wing Yamina party. In two years, he’ll be replaced by Yair Lapid, leader of centrist Yesh Atid. And leading the opposition is Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, ousted from the premiership after holding the post for 12 years.
An intervention by Israel’s attorney general at the height of the unrest has put the most imminent evictions on hold. But rights groups say evictions could still proceed in the coming months as international attention wanes, potentially igniting another round of bloodshed.
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The settlers have been waging a decades-long campaign to evict the families from densely populated Palestinian neighborhoods in the so-called Holy Basin just outside the walls of the Old City, in one of the most sensitive parts of east Jerusalem.
Israel captured east Jerusalem, home to holy sites sacred to Jews, Christians, Muslims, in the 1967 war annexed it in a move not recognized internationally. Israel views the entire city as its capital, while the Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
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The settlers say the homes are built on lthat was owned by Jews prior to the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation. Israeli law allows Jews to reclaim such property, a right denied to Palestinians who lost lands homes in the same conflict.