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5 Palestinians freed following arrests during East Jerusalem eviction

A person walks on the ruins of a Palestinian house demolished by Israeli authorities in Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood on January 19, 2022 (Ahmed Gharabli/AFP)
A person walks on the ruins of a Palestinian house demolished by Israeli authorities in Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood on January 19, 2022 (Ahmed Gharabli/AFP)

Five members of a Palestinian family arrested after Israeli police demolished their house in East Jerusalem have been released, their lawyer tells AFP.

The arrest of several members of the Salhiya family came as they were evicted from their house in the sensitive neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah by Israeli authorities before dawn yesterday.

Walid Abu Tayeh, the family’s lawyer, confirms “the release of the five people detained since Wednesday, including Mahmud Salihiya and his sons.”

Police had accused several Salihiya family members of “violating a court order” and public disturbance.

Abu Tayeh says the release of the five was conditional on payment of a 1,000 Israeli shekel ($320) fine, and that the group is forbidden from entering Sheikh Jarrah for one month.

The looming eviction of other Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah in May last year partly fueled an 11-day war between Israel and Palestinian terror groups in Gaza.

In those cases, Palestinians risked having to surrender plots of land to Jews who had mounted legal claims to the land.

But Jerusalem authorities have stressed the Salihiya family eviction is a different case and that the city intends to build a special needs school on the land, benefitting Arab residents of East Jerusalem.

The city has said it purchased the land from previous Arab owners and that the Salihiyas had lived there illegally for years, but failed to agree to a compromise on an eviction order first issued in 2017.

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