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Israel deploys forces at Jerusalem anti-eviction rally

Feb. 20, 2010 2:25 A.M. (Updated: March 13, 2010 4:02 P.M.)
Jerusalem – Ma’an - Some 100 Israeli and Palestinian protesters amassed in the Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in Jerusalem on Friday, calling for an end to settlement activity and forced eviction of Palestinians from their homes.

Amidst a heavy police and border guard presence, protesters and evicted families gathered to denounce both Israeli policy in Sheikh Jarrah and the separation wall's route in Bil'in, which marked five years of anti-wall demonstrations on Friday.

This week's Sheikh Jarrah demonstration was tame in comparison to its Bil'in counterpart, where protesters breached part of an Israeli military fence and were met with riot disposal gear.

In occupied East Jerusalem, protesters marched down to a residential area not marked off by Israeli police but were quickly dispersed. No one was arrested or injured.

Palestinian children gathered to oversee the demonstration from a nearby hill, where Israeli riot police were stationed, filming the rally.

Israeli forces attempted to disperse the press and diverted protesters from attaining the residential areas closed off by Israeli police, as settlers entered the contested neighborhood.

A month ago, Israeli forces detained 20 protesters during a demonstration in the same neighborhood. Among the arrestees was Yossi Sarid, former head of the Israeli Metetz Party.

Two weeks prior, Israeli police violently suppressed a demonstration against the eviction of Palestinian families from their homes. Seventeen of those detained spent the weekend in jail but were released after the Israeli Magistrate Court in Jerusalem ruled there were no legal grounds for the arrests.

On Sunday Israeli police took down the protest tent erected by the Al-Ghawi family in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, following their eviction from their home in August 2009.

With reporting from Soraya Bauwens-Nuseibeh in Jerusalem
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