Demonstrations across Israel call for the end of Palestinian housing demolitions to make way for Jewish settlers.
Jewish and Arab protesters stage joint effort against evictions
JERUSALEM // Jews and Arabs marched shoulder-to-shoulder in East Jerusalem and in towns across Israel in a joint protest against the eviction of Palestinians to make way for Jewish settlers. In the Sheikh Jarrah residential neighbourhood, close to the line between mainly Arab east Jerusalem and the Jewish west side, Israeli, Palestinian and foreign protesters rallied to mark one year since the clearances there began. Avner Inbar of the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement told AFP that about 1,000 people took part and about the same number marched in Tel Aviv. Eyewitnesses and media put attendance at about 500. Police could not be reached for their estimates this evening, eve of the Jewish Sabbath. The Sheikh Jarrah protests have become a regular event over the past year, but to mark the anniversary Tel Aviv was added and Inbar said there were smaller gatherings in the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Haifa, in Israeli Arab towns in central Israel and in the middle-class Jewish town of Raanana. In the southern Israeli city of Beersheba there were about 100 demonstrators, he said. In Jerusalem, marchers carried banners reading "Together we shall stop house demolitions" in English, Hebrew and Arabic. In Tel Aviv protesters held signs proclaiming "Let justice triumph in Sheikh Jarrah." The Israeli author David Grossman, a regular at the Jerusalem protests, said he hoped that all opponents of the evictions would continue to fight the policy. "I hope that this is just the beginning," he told news website Y-Net. Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move not recognised internationally. It sees all of Jerusalem as its "eternal, undivided" capital and does not consider construction in east Jerusalem to be settlement activity. The Palestinians want to make the east of the city -- home to some 200,000 Jewish Israelis and 268,000 Palestinians -- the capital of their future state. Several Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah have been forced out of their homes since August 2009, on the grounds that the properties belonged to Jews before the state of Israel was founded in 1948. The policy has drawn protests from the international community and from local human rights groups. Construction in east Jerusalem is exempted from a 10-month moratorium on housing starts decreed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government on settlements in the occupied West Bank. * Agence France-Presse