Palestinian man threatens to set home on fire over Israel eviction order in flashpoint al-Quds neighborhood
A Palestinian man has threatened to set himself and his family on fire after Israeli police tried to forcibly evict them from their home in the East al-Quds neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
“We will not leave here, either we die or we live," Mohammed Salhiya shouted as he carried a gas canister onto the roof of his home on Monday, warning, "Whoever approaches, I will burn the house which is full of gas pipes, and I will bomb the house with whoever inside."
"We've been in this home since the 1950s," said another member of the Salhiya family from the rooftop, adding that the family is made up of 15 people, including children, and that they "don't have anywhere to go."
Israeli municipal authorities had issued an order to evict Salhiya from their house in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood to build a school in their place. Years-long attempts by the family to have the order revoked have failed.
In a joint statement, Israeli police and the municipality of al-Quds said that delegates went to Salhiya's home early Monday to carry out an eviction order after the family ignored "countless opportunities" to vacate the land.
However, Israeli police were in a standoff with the Palestinian man who climbed to the roof of the house and threatened to set himself and his family ablaze in the event of eviction.
Police said their "negotiators" were at Salhiya's house after several of its residents "began to fortify themselves with a gas canister and other flammable material."
Clashes erupted between security forces and locals after the police arrived but was later eased, witnesses told AFP.
Al-Quds city Councilor Laura Wharton, who was at the scene, criticized the municipality's actions, saying, "They could have built the schools in the same plot without moving the families. There is plenty of space."
Salhiya's house is located near dozens of homes threatened with eviction, which the Israel's so-called Supreme Court has not yet issued a verdict regarding Israeli settlers’ request to evict Palestinian families.
Sheikh Jarrah has been the scene of frequent crackdowns by Israeli police on Palestinians protesting against the threatened expulsion of dozens of Palestinian families from their homes in favor of hardline Israeli settler groups.