Facing eviction from their home by Israel in occupied East Jerusalem, a Palestinian family threatened to blow it up with gas canisters rather than be forced out.
The latest standoff in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of the city was observed by several Western diplomats, who condemned the Israeli action.
Mahmoud Salhieh, whose family are refugees from West Jerusalem’s Ein Karem neighborhood, has lived in the home since the 1950s.
“They forced us out and we left our homes in 1948. We are not going to leave voluntarily this time and leave our house to be given to Israelis,” he said, standing on the roof of the building surrounded by gas canisters..
“I will burn the house and everything in it, I will not leave here, from here to the grave, because there is no life, no dignity. I’ve been in battle with them for 25 years.”
The family has been facing the threat of eviction since 2017, when the land where their home sits was allocated for school construction. But Laura Wharton, a member of the Israeli-run Jerusalem municipal council, said: “They could have built the school on the same plot without moving the families. There is plenty of space. The sad thing is, this is the municipality itself doing this. It’s not some right- wing settlers.”
The attempted eviction was wit- nessed by a delegation of Euro- pean diplomats led by Sven Kuhn von Burgsorff, head of the EU mission to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
“The EU is very clear — in occupied territory, evictions are a violation of international humanitarian law, and that is true for any eviction or any demolition being ordered, including this one,” he said.
British Consul General Diane Corner, who was also present, said the UK government considered East Jerusalem occupied territory. “Evictions are illegal under international humanitarian law. They cause unnecessary suffering and they only serve to fuel tensions on the ground,” she said.