Jerusalem24 – Mohammad Hamayel – In recent months the Israeli government has issued several decisions to scores of Palestinians from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighborhoods in Jerusalem. This decision threatens scores of Palestinian families.
Fadi al-Hidmi, Palestinian Minister of Jerusalem Affairs said, “In the past few months, many international and Arab statements of condemnation have been issued for the decisions to evacuate Palestinians from the homes they have lived in since before the Israeli occupation 1967.” He also spoke on the role that the international community’s role, saying “the international community is required to intervene immediately and urgently to pressure the Israeli government to stop the displacement operations in the occupied city, in light of the Israeli governmental and judicial institutions’ insistence on striking international legitimacy decisions.”
In response to the recent events in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, the residents of the neighborhood have been organizing themselves into a campaign. They are fighting the Israeli court’s decisions that aim to evict Palestinians from Jerusalem. Saleh Diab, a resident of Sheikh Jarrah told Jerusalem24, “we are originally refugees that left our homes in 1948 and settled in the neighborhood. In 1956, the Jordanian government made an agreement with UNRWA to house 28 Palestinian families including my own on an area of land called Karm al-Jaouni in Sheikh Jarrah.”
According to the agreement, three years after residing in their new homes ownership of the houses and land is registered in the names of the families in the Jordanian land registry. However, that had never happened.
“After what they call the six-day war ended in 1967, the occupation siezed the al-Shanti home; as they escaped the fighting to visit their family.” Diab continued, “this house is right behind my own, they found it empty and took it over.” Since 1972, settler organizations have submitted requests to the Israeli courts to evict the rest of the people from their homes, claiming their ownership of the plot of land on which they live which is about 18 dunums (Around 4.5 acres).
Diab says, “Since that year, Israeli court sessions continued, in which it was clear that there was collusion with the settlement associations, as the judges refused to consider the requests of the Palestinian residents to prove ownership.” He then adds that, “during a court session a judge told us that our case is political and not legal.” despite that, no measures were taken by the courts to protect the Palestinians.
In 2008, the Umm al-Kurd family was evicted from their home. They were followed in 2009 by the al-Ghawi and Hanoun families who were also evicted. The Nabil al-Kurd family lost half of their home. Today, settlers live in their homes.
Early in 2021, the Israeli Magistrate Court issued a new decision giving 4 families from the neighborhood until next May to leave their homes, and 3 other families were given until next August to do the same. The Israeli authorities plan to build 200 settlement units on the lands and homes of the people of Sheikh Jarrah. This plan serves the Israeli vision of encircling the Old City of Jerusalem with a geographic extension of settlements, and suffocating Palestinian neighborhoods and disconnecting them.
Now the Palestinians living in Sheikh Jarrah are mobilizing on the ground through protests and social media campaigns. They are calling on the international and Arab communities to stand in solidarity with their struggle. Diab says, “the families of Sheikh Jarrah are calling on the Jordanian government to provide the necessary documents to help establish their rights to their homes and lands.”