Settler violence in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood surges after a far-right Knesset member opens office on land belonging to a Palestinian family
On Sunday morning, Israeli settlers stormed occupied East Jerusalem’s neighborhood, ahead of the reopening of a far-right Knesset member’s office on land belonging to a Palestinian family, Middle East Eye reported.
Dozens of settlers set up a tent on the Salem family land, who are facing imminent expulsion, and clashed with residents and supporters, injuring 73-year-old owner Fatima Salem.
Settlers scuffled with the residents and used pepper spray, as chairs were hurled by both sides before Israeli police stepped in to push Palestinian crowds back.
Lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir joined the settlers in the tent where he reopened his office, claiming that they are “the landlords”.
Ben-Gvir is head of the Jewish Power party, part of the Religious Zionism political alliance that calls for the eviction of Palestinians from their lands and running Israel according to Torah texts.
On Saturday, he announced his intention to reopen his office in Sheikh Jarrah on a plot of land belonging to the Salem family that was confiscated by settler groups last month.
Following the announcement, dozens of settlers raided the neighborhood just after midnight, pelting stones at Palestinian homes and damaging cars.
Settlers then reached the house of the Salem family and assaulted women and children with pepper spray, residents told Anadolu agency.
“They came out of nowhere and pepper-sprayed me and my neighbor Abu Mohammad. My eyes were burning and I couldn’t open them. I couldn’t breathe,” Fatima Salem said.
Israeli security forces used rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas to disperse Palestinians in the ensuing confrontations, according to Palestinian media.
At least 16 residents were injured, an ambulance service told local media. Six Palestinians were arrested.
Meanwhile, two settlers were also wounded, Haaretz reported.