Palestinian campaigner removed from Sheikh Jarrah after CNN interview

·3 min read
Mohammed El-Kurd interviewed on CNN (CNN)
Mohammed El-Kurd interviewed on CNN (CNN)

A Palestinian writer and campaigner who spoke out against forced expulsions in east Jerusalem on CNN International was allegedly removed from his neighbourhood in Sheikh Jarrah by Israeli forces the following day.

Footage posted to social media appears to show Mohammed El-Kurd being marched through a street by two armed Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) soldiers before being pushed past a metal gate amid a protest.

Just a day earlier, Mr El-Kurd had told CNN that he feared being dispossessed from his home, which he says has happened to other members of his family on multiple occasions.

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“This is my second time being dispossessed from my family, should [Israeli forces] go ahead and do it to me,” he said during a live interview on the news channel.

Mr El-Kurd posted to social media that he’s “fine and unintimidated” after the incident.

“Our protest was nonviolent, this was probably targeted. The soldiers tonight were animalistic, howling and glaring,” he wrote on Twitter.

The IDF did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Mr El-Kurd’s allegation.

Daily protests have been held in Sheikh Jarrah since the Jerusalem District Court ordered multiple Palestinian families to leave their homes in the neighbourhood despite having lived there for generations. A further ruling from the nation’s Supreme Court has been delayed.

Tensions between the Palestinians and Israeli forces escalated in the following days, with hundreds of Palestinians being injured by stun grenades and rubber bullets at multiple large protests, most notably in the Al-Asqa mosque compound.

The two sides then began to verge on “full-scale war”, according to UN Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland, as Hamas fired rockets towards Israeli areas and Israeli forces ordered air strikes on Gaza.

More than 80 people, including 17 children, are reported dead in Gaza, while seven people have died in Israel. The Israeli military is now planning a ground assault on the Strip.

Mr El-Kurd’s comments on the unrest have been widely shared on social media. During his CNN interview, the campaigner was asked whether he supports the “violent protests that have erupted in solidarity with you and other families in your position”, to which he responded “do you support the violent dispossession of me and my family?”.

Mr El-Kurd also contradicted the reporter’s suggestion that his family home was “slated for eviction”, saying that it was in fact “forced ethnic displacement”. He accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing” during an MSNBC appearance, adding “just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s moral or correct or historically just”.

Israel has rejected such descriptions of their actions. During a recent televised address, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and just as every nation builds in its capital and builds up its capital, we also have the right to build in Jerusalem and to build up Jerusalem.

“That is what we have done and that is what we will continue to do.”

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