Shaikh Jarrah – A historical perspective !

In the last few weeks Sheikh Jarrah has become an emblem of what Palestinians see as an Israeli campaign to force them out of East Jerusalem. Shaikh Jarrah is a locality in East Jerusalem. The epithet Jarrah in Arabic means surgeon. We shall have a look at the history and historical events associated with Shaikh Jarrah through the following 15 bullets.

1. Shaikh Husam al-Din al-Jarrahi (حسام الدين الجراحي) ( Full name Husamuddin Husain bin Sharfuddin Isa )was the personal physician and surgeon to Sultan Salahuddin Ayyubi (1137-1193 AD), he was a Noble and lands were bequeathed to him by the Sultan in Eastern Jersualem where he established a zawiya (in Indian context a Khanqah , a Dairah), known as the Zawiya Jarrahiyya. Sheikh Jarrah died in Safar 598 Hijri 1202 AD) and was buried on the grounds of the Zawiya where a tomb was also built. The entire area and neighbourhood is now known as Shaikh Jarrah.

2. Today Shaikh Jarrah is s a predominantly Palestinian locality in East Jerusalem, 2 kilometers north of the Old City, It is the first Arab Muslim-majority neighborhood in Jerusalem to be built outside the walls of the Old City. The modern neighborhood was founded in 1865 and gradually became a residential center of Jerusalem’s Muslim elite.

3. The Sheikh Jarrah property dispute is a long-running dispute involving the ownership of certain properties and housing units in Shaikh Jarrah.

4. In 1948 -After the Nakba and the forced establishment of Israel in 1948, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced, many of whom fled to a territory that was then controlled by Jordan.


5. In 1956, the Jordanian government brought 28 Palestinian families back into Sheikh Jarrah who were displaced from their homes in Israeli-held Jerusalem during the 1948 War. This was done in accordance with a deal reached between Jordan and UNRWA which stipulated that the refugee status of the families would be renounced in exchange for titles for ownership of the new houses after three years of residency, but the exchange did not take place

6. Jordanian rule would end in 1967 war when Israel captured Sheikh Jarrah, along with the rest of East Jerusalem, and the annexation is still considered occupied territory by much of the international community


7. Since then (1967) Israeli Zionists have been working to replace the Palestinian population in the area. Over a period of five decades, a number of Israeli settlements have been built in and adjacent to Sheikh Jarrah

8. Now in 2021 Israel’s Supreme Court ordered that the Iskafi, Kurd, Jaanoi and Qassem families – consisting of 30 adults and 10 children – evacuate their homes by 6 May 2021. These families have been trying to prove that they are legal and valid owners for almost four years. The court gave the Hammad, Dagani and Daoudi families living in the same area until 1 August 2021 to evacuate.

9. Earlier In 2002, 43 Palestinians were evicted from the area and Israeli settlers took over their properties. In 2008, the al-Kurd family was removed, and in 2009, the Hanoun and Ghawi families were evicted and in 2017 the Shamasneh family was also removed from their home by Israeli settlers.

10. Israel wants to demolish homes and displace hundreds of Palestinian families on the basis of this court order issued under the pretext that the Palestinians do not own the land or the houses in Sheikh Jarrah. The irony is that there is no evidence of Israeli ownership of any plot of land in the neighbourhood, which was a village in the past, but became one of Jerusalem’s neighbourhoods.

11. Palestinians view Israeli efforts to evict the residents as a larger ploy to take control of East Jerusalem and its prized Old City, The importance of a neighbourhood like Sheikh Jarrah is its proximity to Al-Aqsa Mosque. Israel wants to empty the houses around Al-Aqsa and put settlers in them in order to surround the Noble Sanctuary from all sides with an Israeli Jewish presence.

12. Israeli law allows only Jews to claim property accepting their forged documents , while Palestinians cannot claim or prove the same rejecting the original Ottoman documents related the ownership of Palestinians. In this specific case, the affected Palestinian refugees have no right under Israeli law to repossess their former homes in Haifa, Sarafand and Jaffa.

13. Israeli uses deception and forgeries to “prove” its claim.. It is a historical fact that the sale of land to Jews was forbidden since long during the Ottoman Rulue that prevented them from owning property in Palestine in general, and in Jerusalem in particular. Ottoman Sultan even banned Jewish visitors from staying in Jerusalem for more than a month. It is entirely false, therefore, for Israel to claim ownership of Sheikh Jarrah’s land.

14. Sheikh Jarrah is about a mile away from the Al-Aqsa Mosque, where Israel imposed unnecessary restrictions on their gatherings during the holy month of Ramadan this year. Tensions boiled over when Israeli police stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque, using stun grenades and rubber bullets against Palestinians they said were throwing stones. After that the clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police have occurred over the anticipated evictions now turned into a war.

References :-
1. ال”انس الجليل بتاريخ القدس والخليل, Volume 2 By ال”عليمي “ عبد الرحمن بن محمد
2. القدس العتيقة مدينة التاريخ والمقدسات، By, Arafa Abdo Ali(2007)
3. Palestine: A Guide. Interlink Books. pp. 328–329 By Marim Shahin (2005)
4. Five controversial Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem Christian Science Monitor. 10 January 2011 by Zirulnick, Ariel.
5. Ottoman Archives Show Land Deeds Forged By Jonathan Cook at CounterCurrrents.org – 25 March, 2009
6.   http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1072208.html


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Khalid Bin Umar

Khalid Bin Umar is a history buff, a voracious reader of history and literature with an interest in heritage, Sufism and biographies. Endowed with command over languages he loves to explore and write primarily on the micro historical accounts.

2 thoughts on “Shaikh Jarrah – A historical perspective !

  • May 16, 2021 at 3:49 pm
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    A very good write up on the subject. Everyone must read it. It gives the whole picture and thr background.

    Reply
  • May 16, 2021 at 3:50 pm
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    Well researched article. I didn’t know that

    Reply

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