Palestinians living in East Jerusalem are currently under the biggest threat perhaps since 1967, as Israel is set to ethnically cleanse up to 2,100 Palestinians from their homes, yet the International Community remains silent.
As a result of the ongoing Israeli policy to keep an unequal “demographic balance” in Jerusalem, keeping the Palestinian population at 30% or under, an escalation of the ethnic cleansing is set to occur this year. Last year, Israel successfully made almost 1,000 Palestinians homeless in the West Bank and East Jerusalem alone, with roughly half those left homeless being children.
According to Israeli Human Right Group B’Tselem roughly 350,000 Palestinians live inside the illegally annexed East Jerusalem, alongside around 209,000 Israeli settlers. These settlers, despite violating international law, are Israeli citizenship holders regarded as living in the country’s self proclaimed capital and are able to vote in Israeli elections, having full access to all the privileges of being Israeli. Palestinians living in East Jerusalem are however unable to vote in Israeli elections and suffer under the tyrannical policies of Israeli municipalities.
To demonstrate how low Palestinians are viewed in the area, just recently Bezalel Smotrich, leader of the religious Zionist party allied with Benjamin Netanyahu just openly proclaimed “Israel is not your national state” to Palestinians who are Israeli citizens. So for those who don’t hold citizenship, it is easy to assume the way Palestinians are viewed by many occupying positions of power in mainstream Israeli society/government.
As home demolitions are constantly ongoing and have escalated since US President Joe Biden has taken office, the areas of both Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah are set to be the worst affected this year.
In Sheikh Jarrah, Israeli settler organisations are seeking to uproot 24 Palestinian families living there, claiming without evidence that Jews used to live in the area prior to 1948. Despite the fact that Sheikh Jarrah residents have spent tens of thousands attempting to argue their case in court, the Israeli legal system has rejected looking at their evidence. Israeli magistrate court of Jerusalem already ordered the expulsion of 12 families, back in October of 2020, but the Settler organisations seek to go further in order to pave the way for settlers seizing Palestinian homes.
In total, 550 Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah are under threat of expulsion and despite this very clearly fitting the description for ethnic cleansing, the International Community have done nothing.
Then in Silwan, the situation is even worse as Israel is set to demolish around 100 Palestinian homes in the area, amounting to the expulsion of 1,550 people, including 800 children. Local residents reportedly mustered 500,000 US dollars in legal fees to fight this decision but the Israeli court chucked their case out.
The reason behind the Israeli demolition plans is to pave the way for ‘The King’s Garden’ which Israeli settlers claimed the area was once a garden for Israeli kings thousands of years ago. So in order to clear the area for Israeli settlers eager to take over and re-establish their rule over the area an act of ethnic cleansing has to be committed.
Something to keep in mind when we look at these two above mentioned cases, are that these are only two isolated instances. Home demolitions and the legal cases to uproot Palestinians from East Jerusalem are ongoing every single day. If the above mentioned cases in Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah occur this year, it will mean that the illegally annexed territory of East Jerusalem will see its worst act – by number – of ethnic cleansing since the record began in 1967.
The urgency of this issue could not be more pressing, yet the Biden Administration refuses to act and so does the International Community.
Just imagine for a moment that White people in the United States could get away with making thousands of Black people homeless, due to unsubstantiated claims of White people having owned property hundreds-thousands of years ago. It would be instantly condemned as racism and we would rightfully see a struggle against this, yet because its Israelis doing it to Palestinians nobody will even hear the issue.