Palestinians from Jerusalem say settlers slashed car tires

JERUSALEM (AP) — Vandals slashed the tires on nearly a dozen Palestinian-owned vehicles overnight in a tense Jerusalem neighborhood where Jewish settlers have been waging a decades-long legal battle to evict Palestinians, residents said Friday.

CCTV footage shows three hooded men entering a fenced-off area of Sheikh Jarrah before stabbing the tires of parked cars. It was unclear who was responsible, but recent weeks have seen an escalation in settler violence toward Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. Israeli police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Two weeks ago, four Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah rejected a settlement floated by the Israeli Supreme Court that would delay their eviction for the next 15 years. Protests and clashes over the threatened evictions helped spark the 11-day Gaza war in May.

None of the 11 cars whose tires were deflated were owned by the four Palestinian families, according to residents. The Israeli police say they are investigating the incident.

Sheikh Jarrah is in east Jerusalem, which Israel captured along with the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Mideast war. Israel annexed east Jerusalem in a move not recognized by most of the international community, and it considers the entire city its capital. It has portrayed the legal battle in Sheikh Jarrah as a local real-estate dispute.

The Palestinians want east Jerusalem to be the capital of a future state that includes the West Bank and Gaza, where Israel withdrew forces in 2005. They say the settlers, with backing from the state, are trying to drive them out of the city and change its identity.

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