On Palestinian Land Day, “Sheikh Jarrah” is a step away from displacement

For decades, the Israeli courts have been trying in various ways and means to evacuate Jerusalemite families residing in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood

Jerusalem24 – The Skafi family has lived in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem, since their displacement from their lands in West Jerusalem in 1948 their sense of the Nakba doubles year after year, in the longest judicial battle in the history of the Israeli occupation.

For decades, the Israeli courts have been trying in various ways and means to evacuate Jerusalemite families residing in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. In 2021, 28 families in the neighborhood are threatened by the danger of displacement in the coming days. The family of Abd al-Fattah Skafi (71 years), is one of those families, was not surprised on October 28, 2020. When the Israeli court handed them a decision to evict them from their home under the pretext of their ownership of “settlement associations.” The struggle of these people with settlers continued between the years of 1972 and 2020.

Skafi lives in a one-story house, which is a home to 14 people, in an area not exceeding 110 meters, which he obtained under a lease contract from the Jordanian government after he and his family immigrated from their lands in West Jerusalem, specifically from the Baqaa neighborhood in 1948.

Recently, Skafi had no choice but to go to the Israeli Supreme Court, after strenuous attempts by him to stop the eviction decision filed against him in the Central Court on Salah al-Din Street in Jerusalem. He said that, “Although I am sure that the supreme court will not take any decision in my favor, I am trying, even if I only buy more time in Jerusalem.”

They are 28 of the 13 families of the Nakba refugees, who live on a land called “Karm al-Jaouni” in Sheikh Jarrah. They are exhausting the remaining measures to stop the eviction decisions by forming an international public opinion issue and putting pressure on Israel.

Today, on the 45th anniversary of Palestinian Land Day, the people of Sheikh Jarrah carry with them memories of the Nakba mixed with a state of fear tinged with constant anxiety, as no one believes what the Israeli authorities are doing in order to displace them and prove the ownership of their homes to the settlers.

An elderly man Aref Hammad, 70, spoke about a decades-long conflict, after the ownership of his home became registered in the Israeli court in favor of settlement associations.

Hammad lives in a house built since 1967, which his father received from the Jordanian government in exchange for his transfer of his refugee card, in addition to two adjacent apartments for his brother and sons, on a plot of 450 square meters.

In 1972, the settlers created two settlement societies under the name “Sephardim” and “Ashkenazim” and registered the properties of a group of Sheikh Jarrah lands in their name, and there is a Turkish “Kushan” documenting this, claiming that these lands belong to them. Hammad continued, “The families resorted to a Jewish lawyer named Isaac Cohen, to defend them in the courts.”

However according to Hammad, after 1988, the settler associations filed a lawsuit against another group of Sheikh Jarrah’s lands under the pretext that they are lands belonging to the settlers. This was with the support of the Israeli courts and the Jewish lawyer whom the families previously resorted to.

He said that the most dangerous thing facing the neighborhood today is the intention of the Israeli authorities “to evacuate the residents from their homes and not demolish them, so the owner of the demolition can build a tent in place of the house, while evacuating the owner loses his land and his home and threatens his past.”

In 1956, the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood was established to house refugees from Palestinian families who were originally expelled and deported from West Jerusalem in 1948, according to an agreement between UNRWA and the Ministry of Housing during the era of the Jordanian government.

Over the past decades, the Israeli  authorities have evicted several families from Sheikh Jarrah, the first of which was the Al-Shanti family, which was visiting Kuwait during 1967. Followed by the families of the Kurds in 2008, and the Hanun and Al-Ghawi families in 2009, the courts took advantage of the end of the Jordanian control in Jerusalem, without considering that they protected refugees in the neighborhood. While this corresponds to weekly stands in solidarity with the people in the neighborhood marred by many attacks and arrests by Israel and its settlers against the Jerusalemites.

Nabil al-Kurd (76 years), a resident of the neighborhood threatened with displacement, lives in a house adjacent to his mother’s house, which the settlers took over in 2009, and says that since the people have lived in the neighborhood, they have been subjected to various kinds of attacks by the settlers to pressure them to empty the neighborhood.

Observers warn that the Israeli authorities have carried out a mass deportation operation in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, relying on the decision of its courts in an unprecedented step, which volunteers the Israeli judicial systems to serve all colonial goals in Jerusalem.

According to observers, the occupation authorities have not left the people of Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood since their resettlement by the Jordanian government in the neighborhood and their affairs, and are working on the “Holy Basin” project to link the lands of Sheikh Jarrah to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and besiege the Old City and then Al-Aqsa Mosque to give the area a Jewish character.

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