Dozens of Christian pilgrims suffered from excessive tear-gas inhalation on Good Friday, April 18, after Israeli troops fired gas canisters as they performed religious rites at the Tomb of Lazarus in al-Eizariya in East Jerusalem. Israeli soldiers reportedly refused to stop firing tear gas canisters despite the presence of pilgrims after clashes had broken out between local youths and Israeli forces in the area. Witnesses told Ma'an News Agency that a tour guide who was escorting the pilgrims asked an Israeli officer to stop firing tear gas canisters until pilgrims left, but the officer continued to fire. The pilgrims had to take shelter in a souvenir shop before they could complete their prayers. The owner of the souvenir shop also tried to convince the Israeli officer to stop firing tear gas so that the pilgrims could leave, but instead the officer "asked a soldier to fire tear gas canisters at the church and at the pilgrims," witnesses added. An Israeli military spokeswoman did not have any information regarding the incident. The village of al-Eizariya houses the Tomb of Lazarus who, according to the Bible, was miraculously brought back to life by Jesus days after he was buried.
Clashes broke out March 20 between Palestinian worshipers and Israeli forces in the al-Aqsa compound following a visit by a right-wing Israeli MK, locals said. Witnesses told Ma'an news Agency that Likud MK Moshe Feiglin and a number of other right-wing politicians entered the mosque compound via the Moroccan Gate and toured the courtyards. Worshipers shouted "Allah Akbar" at the group before Israeli forces raided the compound and began assaulting them with clubs. In response, young Palestinians began throwing stones at the Knesset members, forcing them to leave the compound. Several worshipers and Shariah law students sustained bruises and one of them was treated at a clinic in the Aqsa compound. An Israeli police spokesperson said two Palestinians were detained for throwing stones at Feiglin.
Israeli forces on Feb. 17 bulldozed five steel structures belonging to a Palestinian community in the East Jerusalem town of al-Eizariya, locals said. A large group of Israeli forces raided the town after midnight and surrounded steel structures belonging to the Bedouin al-Jahalin community. Israeli soldiers forcibly evicted five families from the structures, leaving 55 people homeless, Sami Abu Ghaliya, a spokesman of the al-Jahalin tribe council, told Ma'an News Agency. The demolitions took place without giving residents time to gather their belongings. The structures housed a greengrocers and a car wash which provided the main source of income for the community. "They want to displace us and leave us homeless as they did to us in the Nakba of 1948 and the Naksa of 1967," Abu Ghaliya said. "We have been living on this land since more than 60 years."
Demolition teams from the Jerusalem municipality on Feb. 5 destroyed three Palestinian homes and forced a man to demolish his own home in East Jerusalem, leaving 28 homeless. Clashes erupted in one neighborhood following the demolitions, injuring 15 and leading to seven detentions, according to eyewitnesses. The first demolition was in the Beit Hanina neighborhood north of the Old City. Demolition teams, residents said, arrived at 4:30 AM at Wadi al-Dam in Beit Hanina and stormed the home of Muhammad Sanduqa. They then forced the family out and evacuated furniture before bulldozers pulled the house down. Alaa Sanduqa told Ma'an News Agency that his family house was built 17 years ago. The house, he said, measured 65 square meters and housed seven people. He highlighted that his family had paid a fine of 1,000 shekels ($280) for building without a license.
Israel's ultra-reactionary foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, a vocal advocate of "transfer" of the Palestinians, stars in a very gloomy analysis in The Economist on Jan. 18, "Might they want to join Palestine?" The title refers to Israel's Arab citizens, and the subtitle tells us: "Avigdor Lieberman's radical ideas for population transfers are gaining ground." Actually, in Lieberman's politically correct formulaitons of the "transfer" concept, he insists he is talking about transfering land by tweaking the border between Israel and the Palestinian state, not transfering populations. This is transparent hypocrisy. One favorable comparison he has drawn for his proposal, Cyprus 1974, actually did involve massive forced population transfers—and leaves a bitterly divided island nearly two generations later. Others have been bolder. The now happily retired MK Benny Elon pushed a maximalist transfer program—all the Palestinians from the West Bank across the river into Jordan—and won support from influential US politicians for this blatantly illegal scheme. John Derbyshire in National Review in 2002 called for this future for the Palestinians: "Expulsion from the West Bank and Gaza, those territories then incorporated into Israel.... Would expulsion be hard on the Palestinians? I suppose it would... Do I really give a flying falafel one way or the other? No, not really."
The Israeli prison service released prominent Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi on the evening of Dec. 23, freeing him to return to his East Jerusalem home. Local sources told Ma'an News Agency that Issawi was set free from Shatta prison in northern Israel, and subsequently headed to East Jerusalem. His release comes after Israeli forces raided his family home twice in the last days. On the morning Dec. 22, Israeli forces handed notices to his brother and father demanding they meet with Israeli intelligence forces. The next morning, Israeli forces raided his home again and threatened his family that they would not allow any celebration of his release to take place in the neighborhood.
In the most dramatic demonstration ever staged by African refugees in Israel, some 150 Sudanese men who have been detained for months at the sprawling Saharonim prison camp in the desert south marched cross-country on Jerusalem, and on Dec. 18 protested outside the government compound there. In the three-day march through snow-covered country, the migrants took shelter in bus stations at night. They had last week been transfered from Saharonim to an "open" facility at Holot—which authorities maintain is not a prison, despite the fact that the migrants must report back there each night or be in violaiton of the law. Upon the transfer, they quickly abandoned the facilty and began their cross-country trek. At the Jerusalem rally, which was itself an act of civil disobedience against their legal detention, the migrants chanted: "No more prison!" and "Refugees' rights right now!"
Municipality officers escorted by Israeli soldiers issued demolition warrants for thousands of Palestinian homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Ras Khamis and Ras Shahada on Oct. 31, a local Palestinian official said. Jamil Sanduqa, who chairs a local committee to develop the Ras Khamis neighborhood, said that over 15,000 Palestinians live in the buildings slated for demolition. The warrants were posted on 200 residential blocks each consisting of 40-70 apartments and the owners were given 30 days to submit objections to the demolition orders, Sanduqa said. He added that municipality officers took photos of several buildings located near the entrance to the neighborhoods before they issued the orders. Among the buildings was a mosque and a newly built school.