By Servet Gunerigok
WASHINGTON (AA) – Twenty-five Democratic members of the US House of Representatives sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday, calling on him to pressure Israel to halt the planned forced eviction of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem.
"We write to express our deep concern about Israel's imminent plan to forcibly displace nearly 2,000 Palestinians in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Al-Bustan and Sheikh Jarrah," said the letter, led by Representatives Marie Newman and Mark Pocan.
"We call upon the Department of State to exert diplomatic pressure to prevent these acts from taking place," they said in the letter.
The letter cited a report which revealed that an estimated 5,000 Palestinian homes were destroyed by Israeli authorities in East Jerusalem between 1967 and 2017.
"East Jerusalem is part of the West Bank, and, under international law, Israel is in military occupation of this territory," said the letter.
Tensions have been running high since an Israeli court last week ordered the eviction of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, leading to protests by Palestinians and Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians, including worshippers at the city’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.
The latest death toll from ongoing Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip rose to 67, including five women and 17 children, with 388 people injured, the Palestinian Health Ministry said Wednesday.
Heavy damage has also been recorded across Gaza's residential areas, including the leveling of multistory buildings.
To date, six Israelis have been killed in the recent violence – five of them in rocket attacks in addition to a soldier killed when an anti-tank guided missile struck his jeep.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed the city in its entirety in 1980 in a move that has never been recognized by the international community.