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Israeli police on Wednesday evicted Palestinian residents from a disputed property in a flashpoint Jerusalem neighbourhood.

Earlier in the week the residents of the buildings in Sheikh Jarrah held a tense standoff with police officers who had come to evict them from the property, but were stopped by crowds. Several other properties in the neighbourhood are also disputed.

Police said officers arrested several people Wednesday suspected of “violating a court order, violent fortification and disturbing public order.”

The Salhiya family say they purchased the property before 1967, while the state has argued against the family’s claims in court. The Jerusalem Municipality formally seized the property in 2017 for the purpose of building a special needs school, but the family continued to operate a plant nursery there.

A Jerusalem court ruled last year in favour of the city and authorized the eviction. The family has appealed and is awaiting a ruling, but the judge did not freeze the eviction order.

The municipality and police said in a joint statement Wednesday that the family’s “illegal takeover of public space prevented hundreds of children with special needs from East Jerusalem from receiving an educational service that the municipality seeks to provide.”

Dozens of Palestinian families in east Jerusalem are at risk of eviction by Jewish settler organizations, and thousands face the threat of demolition because of discriminatory policies that make it extremely difficult for Palestinians to build new homes or expand existing ones.

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