Israeli police attack Palestinians running to protest expulsions

At least 23 hurt as Israeli police attack run in support of Palestinians facing forced expulsion in East Jerusalem.

An Israeli border police officer prepares to hit a Palestinian man during a confrontation in the Silwan neighbourhood of East Jerusalem that followed the run [Maya Alleruzzo/AP Photo]

The Palestinian Red Crescent said 23 runners were injured when Israeli police fired tear gas and stun grenades at an activist-organised run in solidarity with Palestinian families facing forced expulsion in occupied East Jerusalem

Hundreds of runners took part in the event on Friday which began in Sheikh Jarrah and ended 3.5km (2 miles) away in Silwan. Dozens of Palestinians living in the two neighbourhoods face the threat of losing their homes to Israeli settlers.

Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel Hamid, reporting from East Jerusalem, said the runners were wearing white T-shirts with “7,850” printed on them, representing the number of people activists say are facing forced expulsion in the city.

Abdel Hamid said Israeli security forces had attacked the protesters with stun grenades to disperse them, even though the run was peaceful.

“The young people were simply singing and cheering and were happy that they had done a marathon,” she added.

Palestinians take part in a run organised by activists between the neighbourhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem [Ahmad Gharabli/AFP]

On social media, people posted videos of Israeli forces beating protesters.

One of the runners, Jalal Abu Khater, posted images of his bruised leg and tweeted: “I was beaten six times, attacked by Israeli forces, for running in my ancestral town & city.”

Protests in May against the forced expulsions of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah frequently drew violent responses by the Israeli security forces.

On May 9, amid growing tensions, the Israeli High Court delayed a ruling on the expulsion of four Palestinian families. A new court date would be announced in 30 days, it said.

An Israeli crackdown on protesters also spread to Al-Aqsa Mosque, which Israeli security forces stormed several times during the holy month of Ramadan, wounding hundreds of Muslim worshippers.

Hamas, the Palestinian group that rules Gaza, fired several rockets at Israel on May 10 following the expiration of the group’s ultimatum demanding Israel stand down its security forces from the mosque compound.

Israel then bombarded Gaza for 11 days, killing at least 253 people, including 66 children. Rockets fired by armed groups in Gaza killed at least 12 people in Israel.

Rights groups say expulsions could still proceed in the coming months, potentially igniting another round of fighting.

Israeli rights group Ir Amim, which closely follows the court cases, estimates that at least 150 households in the neighbourhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan have been served with expulsion notices and are at various stages in a long legal process.

The settlers are using a 1970 law that allows Jews to reclaim properties lost during the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation, a right denied to Palestinians who lost property in the same conflict, including Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Runners pass the Roman Catholic Church of All Nations [Ahmad Gharabli/AFP]

Israel captured East Jerusalem, home to holy sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, in the 1967 war and annexed it in a move not recognised internationally.

Israel views the entire city as its capital, while Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Meanwhile, some 20 people were injured in separate demonstrations that took place on Friday against illegal Israeli military outposts and settlements near the occupied West Bank city of Nablus.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies