Roadblocks upend Palestinian family’s life in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah



While the political and court dramas play out, Abu Diab says she and her sibling increasingly feel confined to the street.

For months the world has watched a political eviction drama unfold between Israeli settlers and Palestinian residents of a tiny barricaded road in East Jerusalem that has become a microcosm of the long-running conflict.

But while the cameras focus on the confrontations between police horses and protesters in Othman Ibn Afan Street, for 15-year-old Tala Abu Diab each day is a reminder that the quiet side street she grew up on has turned into a fear-filled obstacle course.

Twice a day the young Palestinian schoolgirl has to present her papers to the armed Israeli police stationed 24 hours a day at roadblocks both ends of her street, waiting for permission to go to and from her home.

“Our life is not a regular life anymore, I cannot go outside to see my friends nor can they come in to see me,” Abu Diab said.

“If they allow them in, which they rarely do, they stay for 30 minutes before clashes start to happen … so my friends have to leave the neighbourhood. That has affected me, I do not see people anymore except for family members.”

Israeli police say the roadblocks and restrictions are to prevent friction between Palestinians and Israeli settlers, who have already moved in to some of the homes on the street.

Those barriers were upgraded to concrete after a Palestinian motorist rammed into them at high speed a month ago. He was shot dead by the police stationed there, six of whom were injured.

The tension arises from a long-running court case in which Jewish settlers seek possession of Abu Diab’s home and others in a case that has drawn international attention and near-daily protests.

An Israeli court ruled in October in favour of settlers who say the Palestinian families are living on land that used to belong to Jews in territory that Israel captured in a 1967 war and later annexed in a move not recognised internationally.

The Palestinians, who question the legitimacy of the settlers’ documents, have appealed the ruling. Israel’s Supreme Court is expected to hear the case on Aug. 2.

While the political and court dramas play out, Abu Diab says she and her sibling increasingly feel confined to the street.

“It’s affected my mental health,” said Abu Diab, whose school is 15 minutes away. “If I leave, they harass me and when I come back, they harass me. It is very hard.”

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