The threat to our neighbours’ homes is the latest chapter in a long campaign to erase the Palestinian presence in Jerusalem
By Lucy Garbett
Published on the Guardian, May 17, 2021
Sheikh Jarrah today smells of dirty socks and rotting flesh. Israeli police vehicles, known as “skunk trucks”, have been spraying Palestinian homes, shops, restaurants, public spaces and cultural institutions with putrid water at high pressure. The water causes vomiting, stomach pain and skin irritation, and was originally developed by an Israeli company to repel protesters. The stench lasts for days on clothes, skin and homes, leading Palestinians to joke that Jerusalem all smells like shit. Protesters are also targeted in other ways. They are brutally beaten, arrested by the police, some on mounted horses, attacked by settlers and sprayed with rubber bullets.
These forms of collective punishment aim to stop the growing movement to save Sheikh Jarrah and halt the dispossession of 27 Palestinian families of their homes there. My family has lived in Jerusalem for several generations since they fled the Armenian genocide in 1915. In 1948, during the Nakba, they were expelled from their home in West Jerusalem and found refuge in the city’s eastern part. Now we live in Sheikh Jarrah and my neighbours are about to be expelled from their homes.