Israeli soldiers fire warning shots during Palestinian protest against eviction

The Israeli army has fired warning shots to disperse crowds of demonstrators in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank who have gathered in protest against plans to demolish the village of Silwan, a settlement on the occupied West Bank.

The demonstrators marched towards Silwan on Sunday evening, chanting “No to the settlements” and “Hamas out!” and waving Israeli flags.

“We have a long history of demonstrating in Silwan,” said Mohammed al-Mansouri, an organizer of the rally.

“I’ve been there for many years, and I’ve never seen so many Israeli soldiers in the streets of East Jerusalem.

We are all Palestinian.”

The demonstrations have been organized by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a group that has been active in East Jerusalem, including at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound and the al-Aksa Mosque compound.

“Silwan is a sacred site, and the army must defend it, as it has done in previous attacks on our holy sites,” said Ayman al-Najjar, a spokesman for the group.

“If Silwan is demolished, Silwan will disappear from the maps of Palestine, it will disappear forever from the history of the Palestinian people.”

Earlier on Sunday, the Israeli military had fired warning rounds to disperse the crowds in Silwa and al-Basha, which is a district in the Westbank.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Al Jazeera that he did not know why the rounds were fired.

“When I asked the army if it fired them, they said it was a military operation,” he said.

“There was no explanation of why the shots were fired.”

The Palestinian Authority’s Fatah party, which has been involved in negotiations to end the Israeli occupation of the West Jerusalem territories, said the shooting was a “new escalation” in a series of military actions against the protests.

Fatah’s parliamentary speaker, Ziad Abu Zayyad, told Al-Jazeera that Israeli soldiers had fired tear gas and water cannon on the protesters, and that the Israeli army had also deployed tear gas canisters at protesters.

“They started shooting at protesters and threw water canisters, which have been used to disperse protesters, but it was in a way that did not kill anyone,” he added.

The Israeli military has a history of escalating tensions with protesters, which escalated on Sunday.

On August 5, Israel’s military carried out a night raid on a peaceful protest in the occupied territories, arresting more than 70 people, including women and children.

In October, two Palestinian youths were arrested for participating in a march in Jerusalem against the Israeli eviction of the village in 2016.