x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 September 2017

Palestinian family evicted from Jerusalem home of 50 years

The Shamasneh family has for years been fighting a court battle against Jewish claimants who said the building was their family property which they fled when east Jerusalem was occupied by Jordanian troops in the 1948 war that led to the creation of Israel

An Israeli settler stands inside the entrance of the Shamasneh family home in Sheikh Jarrah, east Jerusalem, after Israeli policemen evicted the Palestinian family on September 5, 2017. Ahmad Gharabli / AFP
An Israeli settler stands inside the entrance of the Shamasneh family home in Sheikh Jarrah, east Jerusalem, after Israeli policemen evicted the Palestinian family on September 5, 2017. Ahmad Gharabli / AFP

Israeli police on Tuesday evicted a Palestinian family from the east Jerusalem home in which they had lived for over half a century, making way for Israelis deemed the legal occupants.

The Shamasneh family has for years been fighting a court battle against Jewish claimants who said that the building was their family property, which they fled when east Jerusalem was occupied by Jordanian troops in the 1948 war that led to the creation of the Jewish state.

Under Israeli law, if Jews can prove their families lived in east Jerusalem homes before the 1948 war they can demand that Israel's general custodian office release the property and return their "ownership rights". No such law exists for Palestinians who lost their land. 

During the war, thousands of Jews fled Jerusalem as Jordanian-led Arab forces seized the city, while hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled from land that was later to become Israel in what Palestinians call the Nakba.

_______________

Read more:

East Jerusalem family latest targets of settler eviction campaign

Opinion: Israel is getting creative at countering its demographic disadvantage, but it may be too little, too late

Why Jerusalem is vastly different to the fantasy city described in my youth

_______________

Today, some 5 million Palestinians are registered as refugees with the United Nations, meaning that they, or their male ancestors, lost their homes and livelihood as a result of the 1948 violence. Nearly one-third live in recognised Palestinian refugee camps, according to the UN, often in squalid conditions. 

None of these Palestinian refugees have the right to return to the homes their families fled in what is now Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories.

In 2013 the Israeli Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Jewish claimants to the Shamasneh family home, who subsequently sold the property on.

On Tuesday morning, young Jewish men were seen moving into the building after the Shamasnehs were escorted out by police.

Fahamiya Shamasneh, 75, said police arrived before dawn ordering her, her sick husband, Ayoub, 84, their son and his family out of the house in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood where the couple lived for 53 years.

"What greater injustice is there than this?" she said. "Maybe we will sleep in the street."

Members of the Shamasneh family watch as Israeli policemen clear their home to make way for Jewish settlers on September 5, 2017. Ahmad Gharabli / AFP
Members of the Shamasneh family watch as Israeli policemen clear their home to make way for Jewish settlers on September 5, 2017. Ahmad Gharabli / AFP

It was the first eviction in the neighbourhood since 2009, according to Israeli anti-occupation group Peace Now.

Israel sees the city as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians want the eastern sector as their future capital.

Israel occupied east Jerusalem in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.

Around 200,000 Israeli Jews now live in east Jerusalem in settlement homes considered illegal under international law.

Peace Now says the dispute over the Shamasneh home is part of a larger process of establishing settlements in Sheikh Jarrah.

"Settlers are already inside the Shamasneh family's home," it said on Tuesday morning.

"The eviction of the Shamasneh family, who resided in the house since 1964, is not only brutal but it is also indicating a dangerous trend that could threaten a future compromise in Jerusalem."