MAP calls for protection of Palestinians enduring violence and coercion in East Jerusalem

The past two weeks have seen a fresh wave of incitement, coercion and violence against Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem which is directly undermining Palestinian communities’ health, wellbeing and dignity. Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) joins with those calling for international action to protect the Palestinian population of the city and to ensure that Israel abides by its duties as an occupying power.

Following the start of Ramadan on 13 April, Palestinians protested the decision of the Israeli authorities to install new metal barriers outside the Damascus Gate, restricting access to public areas where people gather during the evening during Ramadan. On 22 April, hundreds of far-right Israeli extremists marched to the Damascus Gate at Jerusalem’s Old City, with many chanting anti-Palestinian slogans including “death to Arabs”, while videos circulating on social media showed Palestinians being harassed in their homes and attacked in the street.

At least 166 Palestinians were injured in that weekend’s violence, including as a result of racist attacks by Israeli civilians and the use of tear gas and rubber bullets by Israeli forces against Palestinian protesters. More than 200 Palestinians were arrested. Twenty Israelis, including civilians and police officers, were also injured.

Palestinians protesting the imminent forced displacement of families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in favour of Israeli settlers seeking to take over their homes - a move that would be illegal under international law - have also been injured in recent days. Israeli forces have physically assaulted residents and protesters, using stun grenades, water cannons and foul-smelling “skunk water”.

This week, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) provided a submission to Prof Michael Lynk, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, on the impact of settlements – including those in East Jerusalem – on the rights to health and dignity of Palestinians, in response to a call for input to his upcoming report. You can read our submission here

UK Consul General Philip Hall also released a video from Sheikh Jarrah earlier this week outlining the UK government’s position:

“East Jerusalem is occupied and it has been illegally annexed, the restitution and planning laws here and their implementation are unfair, and they breach Israel’s obligations as an occupying power.”

MAP endorses a call from the Council for Arab-British Understanding (Caabu) for action from the UK government and other members of the international community to stop the forced eviction, displacement and dispossession of families in Sheikh Jarrah. In a statement released today, Caabu urged the UK to:

 “condemn in absolute terms, the ways in which knees were placed on the necks of members of the Sheikh Jarrah families and other Palestinians, the use of batons, tear gas and skunk spray, and other forms of police violence used on those trying to save their community from forced eviction and dispossession.”

MAP supports the Saraya Centre in the Old City, which provides psychosocial support services and a safe place to learn and play for Palestinian children and young people growing up in the stressful environs of occupied East Jerusalem.

We will continue to update supporters on how these latest tensions are effecting the health and dignity of Palestinian communities in the coming weeks.

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