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Palestinians face renewed violence in Jerusalem for protesting evictions

For more than a week, Palestinians have protested throughout Jerusalem over attempts to evict Palestinian families from their homes. Tensions exploded in Jerusalem, and in Gaza, as Hamas militants on Monday fired rockets into Israel, and toward Jerusalem. In response, Israel conducted airstrikes in Gaza, killing more than twenty people, including at least nine children. Amna Nawaz has the story.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And now back to tensions exploding in Jerusalem and in Gaza.

    Hamas militants today fired rockets into Israel and toward Jerusalem. In response, Israel conducted airstrikes in Gaza, killing more than 20 people, including at least nine children. For more than a week, Palestinians have protested throughout Jerusalem over attempts to evict Palestinian families from their homes.

    Amna Nawaz has the story.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    In Jerusalem today, thousands gathered to celebrate the Israeli capture of the eastern part of the city from Jordan 54 years ago. But, by early evening, they were forced to disband, as air raid sirens warning of Hamas rockets echoed through the city.

    For days, the streets in nearby majority Palestinian East Jerusalem have been far from peaceful. The holy sites reek of tear gas. The stench of skunk water deployed by Israeli soldiers pollutes the air, and stun grenades light up the streets. Over the weekend, Israeli soldiers injured more than three hundred people observing the end of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

    Tensions are high in the Holy Land, fueled partly by the potential eviction of Palestinian families from their Jerusalem homes.

  • Fakhri Abu Diab (through translator):

    Everything that is happening is meant to drive Palestinians out and try to empty Jerusalem completely of them.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Six Palestinian families face eviction in East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. The decision rests with the Israeli Supreme Court, which delayed the case today.

    Muna Kurd is a member of one of those families.

  • Muna Kurd (through translator):

    This is an arbitrary collective displacement of a large group of people. Israel wants to raze our neighborhood and put Israeli settlers in our place.

    But we emphasize our right to this land. Since 1956, these are our homes. We were born here. We grew up here, and we will remain in our homes.

  • Woman:

    You are stealing my house,

  • Man:

    And if I don't steal it, someone else is going to steal it.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    But Israeli settlers say the area is holy to them, because it was built beside the tomb of a Jewish high priest and they owned the land prior to Israel's 1948 founding.

    Today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced support for Israeli soldiers and police in Jerusalem.

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (through translator):

    This is not a mission that we can carry out without conflict from time to time with those same forces of intolerance that want to take away our rights to the Temple Mount and the other holy sites.

    This requires from time to time standing up and standing strong, as Israeli police and our security forces are doing now. We support them in this just struggle.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The neighborhood has become another flash point in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinians say it represents a wider push to remove them from areas strategic to Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem.

    In the last four years, Netanyahu's government built over 9,000 new settlement homes in the West Bank and Jerusalem, an expansion policy unchallenged by the Trump administration. Palestinian families attempting to defend their homes have been met with violence from Israeli settlers and arrests by Israeli soldiers.

    Last week, the U.N. called the evictions illegal.

  • Rupert Colville:

    The evictions, if ordered and implemented, would violate Israel's obligations under international law.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Today, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the U.S. is concerned with escalating violence.

  • Jen Psaki:

    Our national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, reiterated concerns about the potential evictions of Palestinian families from their homes. And they agreed that the launching of rocket attacks and incendiary balloons from Gaza towards Israel is unacceptable and must be condemned.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Sheikh Jarrah has long been a contentious site between Israeli settlers and Palestinians. In 2009, settlers evicted dozens of families from their homes in the neighborhood.

    But, in the past month, tensions have again come to a boiling point. In April, hundreds of Israeli extremists marched through Jerusalem yelling death to Arabs. Today, even as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan comes to a close, this conflict is far from over.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Amna Nawaz.

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