A protest following the eviction of Palestinians from their homes in Silwan, Jerusalem on 11 May 2020 (Mahfouz Abu Turk/APA Images)
Approximately 500 words was all what the judges of the Jerusalem District Court needed to determine the fate of seven Palestinian families with 31 people, eight of them are children, in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, according to the Israeli Peace Now movement.
The court ruled on Wednesday that the Palestinian families should vacate their homes by August 1st, 2021 in favor of Israeli settlers.
Three weeks ago, the same court rejected another appeal by six other families against their eviction from their homes and in a few rows determined that they should leave their houses in favor of the settlers.
This way, in less than one month, the Jerusalem District Court ordered the eviction of 58 people, 17 of them children, from 13 houses in Sheikh Jarrah, despite the fact that all of them legally set up roots in their homes, in an official agreement with the Jordanian government which built the houses for them at the 1950s.
The lawsuit is part of an organized move designed to dispossess a Palestinian community of its home and establish a settlement in Sheikh Jarrah in its place, said Peace Now. Hundreds of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah are in a similar situation in court proceedings, and hundreds more in Batan al-Hawa in Silwan neighborhood.
Advocate Sami Arsheid, who represents the families, confirmed after the hearing of the appeal on Monday that the issue of the evictions in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan is one of the items of the complaint filed by the Palestinians to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. The Prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, declared earlier last week the initiation of an investigation respecting the situation of Palestine.
Since the beginning of 2020 to the present day, judgments have been given in 14 eviction claims of Israeli settlers against Palestinian families in the Batan al-Hawa in Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah. In the rulings, the Israeli Magistrate’s Court ordered the evacuation of 33 families with 165 people, including dozens of children - seven cases in the Batan al-Hawa for the evacuation of 107 people from 20 families; seven cases in Sheikh Jarrah for the evacuation of 58 people from 13 families.
All the families have filed appeals and are in various stages of hearing in the district court, and some even in the Supreme Court.
Dozens more families are in proceedings and may receive evictions soon. If the government does not stop the move, there might be massive evictions of families in the coming months, warned Peace Now.
"The story here is not legal but political. The court is only the tool by which settlers use with the close assistance of state authorities to commit the crime of displacing an entire community and replacing it with a settlement. The Israeli government and settlers have no problem to displace thousands of Palestinians in the name of ‘the Right of Return’ to properties before 1948, while they strongly claim that the millions of Israelis living in Palestinian properties before 1948 cannot be evicted", said Peace Now.
In 1948 the land, which was then without structures, came under Jordanian rule. The Jordanians designated the land for the resettlement of dozens of Palestinian refugee families, who exchanged their refugee status for homes in the newly-built neighborhood in Sheikh Jarrah. After 1967, the Jewish organizations recovered the ownership rights of the land based on the Legal and Administrative Matters Law and began to demand that the refugee families vacate their homes. To that extent, the associations were exercising the "right of return" of Jews to assets taken in 1948, a right not afforded to Palestinians.
In recent years, the Nahalat Shimon settler company has filed numerous lawsuits against dozens of families in Sheikh Jarrah in the Karem Ja’uni area, which are in various stages of court hearings.
Recently, eviction procedures against the Sabbagh family were renewed after losing in court to the settlers in a similar lawsuit.