(CNN) — A few hundred people were back at their empty buildings in Sheikh Jarrah for what they thought would be a festive evening marking the 20th anniversary of their house searches in an Arab-Israeli village.
But there were no celebrations and less than a dozen people were reported home when police arrived again Friday night. About 200 were living at a small mosque on rented land, a man and three young boys who live near the area said.
There was no official notice about the new police raid, the men said. They waited outside for a phone call from the authorities who left their cell phones at home.
Police arrived again early Saturday morning, the men said. The high court ordered the Palestinians returning to their homes to stay away from it, they said.
Lawyers for the Israeli government requested that the Supreme Court reject the appeal to their ruling, and another Israeli court dismissed the eviction case on Thursday.
But Sheikh Jarrah has become a symbol for the Palestinians’ struggle for their own state in Palestine. Dozens of Palestinians have been forced out of their homes by Israel to make way for Israeli settlers, leading to sometimes deadly clashes.
The homes in Sheikh Jarrah were built by Palestinians, who lived there for decades, until about 11 years ago, when Jewish settlers moved in. The courts declared it illegal and passed an order that would dissolve the existing families and called for the return of their homes. That order was upheld by Israel’s Supreme Court.
The Palestinians have criticized this month’s crackdown, saying the Israeli actions constitute an affront to the rights of residents.
“The voices of peace and justice will not go unheard, and they will overcome oppression and repression,” lawyer Adnan Qaraqe said Saturday after an evening prayer at a mosque near the illegal construction site, scene of recent police raids.
Israel says the villages are illegal, part of a network of Arab Jewish “homes on stolen Palestinian land.”
“All the entire village buildings in Sheikh Jarrah and Rachel, within Israel’s 1967 borders, were destroyed illegally when Israel built settlements on its pre-1967 borders. Israel refuses to recognize these illegal settlements and does not follow basic humanitarian and international law rules and regulations,” a Justice Ministry statement says.
Israel says it allows some Palestinian owners to live there, but only under strict conditions.
In the last eviction in March, more than 100 people gathered at Sheikh Jarrah, chanting anti-Israel songs as Israeli police helicopters circled overhead.
The next night, heavily armed police stormed the community of about 800 to evacuate residents of four empty homes and then sealed off the Palestinian homes that also housed families, according to an Israeli army statement.
The crowd fled the area. Police arrested at least eight people after clashes in the street, some throwing stones at officers.