Over May 2021, the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) increased the number of arrests and deportations of Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem (or al-Quds, as it is known in Arabic), at the same time that attacks by settlers increased.
Statistics from Palestinian human-rights groups show that in May alone, occupation forces made 677 arrests in occupied al-Quds, and expelled more than 270 people from the al-Aqsa mosque and the wider Old Town.
Amongst them were 116 minors, including 20 aged between 13 and 14, plus 32 women.
Arrests were made in or around the al-Aqsa mosque (117 arrests), Bab al-Amoud and nearby areas (138 arrests), and in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, where 79 arrests have been recorded. Hundreds of more arrests were made across neighbourhoods and towns.
Al-Aqsa witnessed numerous violent confrontations over the month of May, especially in the last week of Ramadan, due to calls from far-right extremist groups to organise mass incursions on so-called “Jerusalem Day” – a celebration of the occupation of the eastern section of the city.
Settlers escalated their attack on Palestinian al-Quds residents and their property. Numerous injuries were recorded, due to settlers using live fire against the residents of the Sheikh Jarrah and Sharafat neighbourhoods.
And, in a policy of collective punishment, the occupation forces removed the right of current and former detainees’ families to national health insurance. In May, 19 Palestinians and their families lost their health insurance, including those of three current detainees.
The IOF forced “administrative detention” on 11 Palestinians, meaning they were detained on the sole authority of the Israeli Defence Minister, for periods between 3-6 months.
Human-rights organisations recorded more than 270 expulsion decisions – including from al-Aqsa and the wider Old City, and the prevention of entry to Bab Al-Amoud area – for periods ranging between 1 week to 6 months. Dozens of younger Palestinians were removed from the Sheikh Jarrah area, and a number of young men were removed from their areas of residence.
Moreover, the occupation authorities continue to hold the bodies of five al-Quds residents.
Over the past month, the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood has seen daily, peaceful sit-ins in opposition to the threat of evictions against dozens of residents, due to the drive for “Jewish ownership of the land.” The sit-ins were repressed by the occupation forces, using beatings, sound bombs, and sewage spraying. The same forces also used arbitrary arrests and expulsions from the neighbourhood, and blocked entrances to prevent entry except for the residents.
The continuous arrests of al-Quds residents are an intentional, systematic policy by the Israeli occupation, aimed at demoralising them, and worsening their social and economic situation – targeting all aspects of their lives, to push them to leave their homes and their holy sites “voluntarily”
Since there are no indications that the occupying force intends to reverse its policies or conform to international law, Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR UK) has repeatedly called on the international community to restrain Israel from committing violations against the Palestinians.
AOHR UK has underlined Palestinians’ long wait for justice, and the continued lack of seriousness in the steps taken against Israel – only encouraging the occupier to commit more violations against the Palestinian people.