Why Israel is so desperate to silence #SaveSheikhJarrah
Over the last month and a half, we have been witnessing what many are calling a new Palestinian uprising. It is being dubbed by some as the “Intifada of Unity” because it brought Palestinians all across colonised Palestine together in resistance. Indeed, they are resisting and demonstrating against settler colonialism and its manifestations in unison across various geographies, from Jerusalem to Gaza.
The catalyst for this new uprising was the Israeli regime’s threat to expel Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah – the now famous Palestinian neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem.
Palestinians living in Sheikh Jarrah, like countless other Palestinian communities, have been facing the threat of expulsion for decades. They have been engaged in a long legal battle with the Israeli regime to hold on to their homes and to stop, or at least slow down, the Israeli attempts to ethnically cleanse and completely Judaise Jerusalem.
In late April 2021, the Jerusalem District Court rejected the appeals against what Israeli courts refer to as the “eviction” of eight households, and ordered that these families vacate their homes by May 2, 2021.
Refusing this order, the families engaged in a vibrant grassroots campaign to “Save Sheikh Jarrah” from colonial ethnic cleansing. The campaign was, and continues to be spearheaded by members of the community, most notably by 23-year-old twins, Mohammed and Muna al-Kurd.
The siblings have been sharing the on-the-ground reality in Sheikh Jarrah and calling all Palestinians to action through their social media accounts which have hundreds of thousands of followers. Their efforts have since attracted not only local but international attention. The campaign has managed to unite Palestinians across colonised Palestine by encapsulating what is quintessentially the Palestinian experience: forced displacement.
From the outset, however, it has faced a huge crackdown. Social media users sharing content from and about Sheikh Jarrah reported that their accounts have been censored, limited or shut down.
Mohammed al-Kurd himself said he received a warning from Instagram that his posts about Sheikh Jarrah and the Israeli regime’s brutality have been breaching “community guidelines” and his entire account may eventually be deleted.