4 Arrested, 20 injured as Israelis, Palestinians Fight Over Potential Evictions

Israeli police arrested four people in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem after a fight erupted between Palestinians and Jewish settler groups who are attempting to evict several Palestinian families, the Associated Press reported. The Red Crescent emergency service said 20 Palestinians were injured.

The fight involved stones, chairs and fireworks being thrown from both sides. The Red Crescent said 16 of the people its crews treated had been tear-gassed and pepper-sprayed.

Others suffered injuries from rubber-coated bullets, and two were injured, including an elderly man who had been hit in the head.

Settlers have campaigned for decades to evict Palestinian families from their homes in the densely populated Palestinian neighborhoods just outside the walls of the Old City.

The area is known as the Holy Basin and the Jewish settlers claim the land was owned by Jews prior to the Israel's creation in 1948. Jews are allowed to reclaim that property under Israeli law, but Palestinians who lost land in the 1948 war do not have the same rights.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Israel Border Guard
Israeli border guards stand at attention in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah on June 21, 2021, during clashes between Israeli far-right extremists and Palestinians. Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

The threatened evictions fueled protests and clashes in the runup to last month's 11-day Gaza war and pose a test for Israel's new governing coalition, which includes three pro-settler parties but is hoping to sideline the Palestinian issue to avoid internal divisions.

It was unclear who started the brawl. The officials said someone launched fireworks at police forces and residents' houses and that "several Molotov cocktails were thrown and stones were thrown." One woman was reportedly injured when she was hit in the back by a stone, police said.

The Red Crescent said settlers threw stones at one of its ambulances and Israeli forces sprayed skunk water on a second ambulance belonging to the service.

The eruption of violence is the latest friction in Sheikh Jarrah, where weeks of unrest captured international attention ahead of the 11-day Israel-Hamas war last month. The cease-fire took effect on May 21, but the long-running campaign by Jewish settlers to evict dozens of Palestinian families continues.

And so the cycle of tension endures, in a stark early test for Israel's new coalition government, which is just over a week old.

At the helm under a rotation agreement is Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the right-wing Yamina party. In two years, he'll be replaced by Yair Lapid, leader of centrist Yesh Atid. And leading the opposition is Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, ousted from the premiership after holding the post for 12 years.

An intervention by Israel's attorney general at the height of the unrest has put the most imminent evictions on hold. But rights groups say evictions could still proceed in the coming months as international attention wanes, potentially igniting another round of bloodshed.

Israel captured east Jerusalem, home to holy sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, in the 1967 war and annexed it in a move not recognized internationally. Israel views the entire city as its capital, while the Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Israeli Police
Israeli security forces take positions during clashes with Palestinians in front of the Dome of the Rock Mosque at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City on June 18, 2021. Palestinians and Jewish settlers hurled stones, chairs and fireworks at each other overnight in a tense Jerusalem neighborhood where settler groups are trying to evict several Palestinian families, officials said. Mahmoud Illean, File/AP Photo