Sheikh Jarrah Protests Escalate

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Source: AFP Photo

By Seth Gellman

As the conflict between Israel and Palestine escalates in the Middle East, many across the globe are expressing their support for one side or another. Tensions are building up across Israel and Palestine, in particular across the Gaza Strip, which is occupied by Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, where much of the fighting has taken place. In fact, a building containing AP and Al Jazeera offices in Gaza was destroyed by Israeli forces.

The destruction of buildings and escalated fighting has led many in the Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in Jerusalem to protest. These protests quickly spread and protesters have mobilized across over a dozen cities, including Haifa, Jaffa, and Nazareth. Eight Palestinian families in the neighborhood are facing expulsion and face a legal challenge from a U.S.-based settler organization who disputes ownership of the land. These settlers, alongside Israeli police, are reportedly ramping up intimidation of the families, pursuing new court orders as well. The families staged sit-ins in response.

The protests are mobilizing young Palestinians in numbers seldom seen before. They are using social media to spread their message and protest against what they see as a gross injustice. Israeli police banned the gathering of Palestinians in April, attempting to stop Palestinians from gathering during Ramadan and escalating fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinians. Additionally, there was a march by right-wing group Lehava last month, where armed men marches through Palestinian neighborhoods, shouting “Death to Arabs.” 

This has not been a rapid change, however. Voter repression has been an increasingly significant conflict between Israel and Palestine in recent years. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas postponed elections recently because he couldn’t receive confirmation that Palestinians in East Jerusalem would be able to participate.

Many see these protests as the face of Palestinian oppression. The Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah are mobilizing rapidly and using social media to great effect, causing protests across the world, including Madrid, Stuttgart, and Doha. The U.N. Security Council announced that it would meet on May 16 to discuss a compromise and a U.S. diplomat is attempting to compromise a cease-fire.

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