JERUSALEM: Dozens of Palestinians performed Friday prayers in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem to express their rejection of Israel’s plan to evict Palestinian families from their homes in favor of settlers.
Palestinians say more than 200 Palestinians participated in Friday prayers, which were held on a street near the home of the “Salem” family who are facing a risk of forceful expulsion.
The participants also performed absentee prayers for the “souls of the Palestinian martyrs” after the Friday prayers. Large forces of the Israeli police were deployed at the entrances and alleys of the neighborhood.
Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, the preacher of Al-Aqsa Mosque, said in the Friday sermon in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood that evacuating residents from their homes is one of the “most horrific forms of injustice.”
“These lands are holy and blessed. Therefore, these lands belong not only to the Palestinian people but to all Muslims in the World,” said Sabri.
‘Protecting Masjid al-Aqsa’
“We salute your struggle for your land and your homes. Sheikh Jarrah is part of Jerusalem. Defending your lands and houses means defending and protecting Masjid al-Aqsa,” he added.
On Thursday, Israeli forces dispersed dozens of Palestinians taking part in a peaceful rally, assaulted Palestinians and solidarity activists outside the home of the Salem family.
Tensions remained high in the neighborhood over the past week as extreme right-wing Israelis led by fascist lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir set up a makeshift office in the neighborhood, provoking its residents and drawing confrontations from time to time.
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 Sunday, he opened his makeshift office in Sheikh Jarrah on a plot of land belonging to the Salem family that was grabbed by settlers last month.
After the opening of the Office, dozens of settlers raided Sheikh Jarrah just after midnight, pelting stones at Palestinian homes and damaging cars.