Photo: Asia News

Israel: Israeli judge orders eviction of more Palestinian families

In 2022, the Supreme Court had intervened by «freezing» the expropriations in the neighbourhood long at the centre of high tensions in East Jerusalem. A judge ordered the eviction of three families by July. Behind the decision is said to be pressure from Nahalat Shimon, a pro-settlement group. The army ordered the seizure of land north of Hebron, a UN note against settler violence.

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(ZENIT News – Asia News / Jerusalem, 04.23.2024).- The controversial story relating to the disputed properties in Sheikh Jarrah, a suburb of East Jerusalem, is made up of a new chapter after the sentence issued in recent days by an Israeli court, destined to fuel controversy and conflict between the parties.

The judges ordered the forced removal of three Palestinian families from their homes, giving the members – around twenty people in total as reported by the Palestinian agency Wafa – until mid-July to leave their homes and move elsewhere, freeing up the properties.

The decades-long dispute in Sheikh Jarrah, exploded in early May 2021, coinciding with the legal battle over the ownership of some houses, with pro-settler movements trying to evict Palestinian families.

The controversy concerns the Church of the Holy Land and three years ago also triggered violent flash fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. As explained by the former Patriarchal Vicar of Jerusalem of the Latins Msgr. Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, still resident in the holy city today, the issue is the result of «Israel’s plan» to «occupy as much land and houses in East Jerusalem» by strengthening the «expropriation plans».

In March 2022 the Supreme Court itself intervened, «freezing» the expropriations and placing the entire issue back in the hands of the Israeli Ministry of Justice.

Saleh Diab, a member of one of the groups interested in the eviction, reports that in May last year a hearing was held at the court of first instance in Jerusalem.

Despite the supreme judges’ decision, a magistrate decided to reopen the case under pressure from the Nahalat Shimon group, linked to the settlers; it has been fighting for some time to try to expel the 28 Palestinian families – for a total of around 500 people – from their homes through a legal battle in the courtrooms.

Diab adds that these families have been living in the disputed homes for 56 years and have been fighting eviction attempts since 2009.

According to the tribunal, there was an illegal and untitled occupation of the properties, which were owned by the Jews. In contrast, Palestinian families say they have lived in the homes for decades.

The Sheikh Jarrah complex was built on empty land that, before the 1948 war, was owned by Jewish religious associations. After the conquest of East Jerusalem, the Israeli government approved some laws that allowed the reclaiming of properties stolen from the Jordanian government in 1967. In reality, the law only allows the reclaiming of assets controlled by Amman and attributable to enemy entities.

But in case the Jordanian government has transferred ownership to private individuals, they retain the title and rights. What is certain is that this saga has become one of the symbols of the ongoing struggle between the various souls of the holy city, with inevitable political and confessional mixes.

In 2021 at the time of the protests – which later resulted in the short but large-scale conflict in Gaza – among those who played a key role was the extremist leader Itamar Ben-Gvir, at the time an opposition parliamentarian and now Minister of National Security .

The sentence of recent days comes at a time of great tension in Jerusalem due to the war in Gaza and the ongoing escalation with Iran and due to the repeated episodes of violence in the West Bank, with killings and seizures of land. In these hours the release of an Israeli army provision for the seizure of 64 thousand square meters of land in the al-Bouira area, north of Hebron, the first step towards the creation of a new residential and industrial settlement for the settlers .

The decision would lead to the forced displacement of approximately 8 thousand Palestinians living in the area. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights intervened against the policy of expropriations and forced displacements and, addressing the Israeli security forces, asked them to «immediately put an end to their active participation and support for settler attacks against the Palestinians».

This is inked to the escalation of attacks against villages and cities, triggered by the death of a 14-year-old Israeli boy and which led to the killing of seven Palestinians and the wounding of 75 other people.

In addition to deaths and injuries, the attacks caused hundreds of homes and other buildings, as well as cars, to burn. “Israel, as an occupying power, must take all measures in its power – concludes the UN note – to restore and guarantee, as far as possible, public order and security” in the West Bank.

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