As the Israel district court postpones another hearing, the threat of forced expulsion of Silwan families under 1970 Israeli law. OIC demands UNHCR a permanent commission to address human rights violations.
Israeli court postpones its decision on forced expulsion and displacement appeal filed by two Palestinian families, Najah and Kayed al-Rajabi, from Batn al-Hawa, Silwan neighbourhood Wednesday. The expulsion threat affects over 86 families comprising 700 Palestinian people from Silwan, al-Bustan and Wadi al-Hilweh.
After the hearing, the Silwan People Protection Committee reported in a written statement that Israel’s Central court decided to postpone the decision. The court did not set a date for further continuation of the judicial process before the postponement.
The appeal was filed against the 2020 court verdict where they okayed the expulsion of 7 Palestinian families in East Jerusalem. The hearing also came as the backdrop of weeks of violence across Palestinian territories.
Lawyer of the appellants, Yazeed Qawar said that Tuesday’s court session was called off after Palestinians petitioned the attorney general to intervene.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement, “The majority of new cases were identified in the Batn al-Hawa area of Silwan, which remains the community with the highest number of people at risk of displacement, due to ongoing eviction cases.”
A follow-up survey by OHCHR in 2020 revealed that at least 218 Palestinian households in East Jerusalem had eviction cases filed against them, the majority initiated by settler organisations, placing 970 people, including 424 children, at risk of displacement.
As a result of eviction threats, dozens of protesters gathered outside the court to show support to the Palestinian families. In front of them were the Israeli police with barricades and armistices. One of the protestors, Qutaiba Odeh was arrested. He is a father of three who is facing demolition orders in his house in the al-Bustan area in Silwan.
According to a statement issued by Israel police on May 23, 1,550 people have been detained in the past two weeks.
Meanwhile, The London-based human rights group Amnesty International’s has called on Israel to scrap the planned evictions. Its deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, Saleh Higazi called out the Israeli law as a “criminal policy of forced displacement of Palestinians.”
Higazi further said, “for years Israel has sought to expand illegal settlements in the area of Silwan, forcibly displacing more than 200 Palestinians from their homes.”
Right now, over 400 Israeli settlers live in around 12 areas among 55,000 Palestinians in Silwan, Al-Bustan, Batn al-Hawa and Wadi al-Hilweh. The Palestinians see this law as a threat to change the demography and create Jews majority in the area.
In a September 15, 2020, ruling, Judge of the Magistrates Court in Jerusalem, Efrat Eichenstein ordered the eviction of 26 members of the al-Fatah Rajbi family living in Batin al-Hawa, Silwan. They were asked to hand over their homes to Ateret Cohanim.
In another similar case, Judge Miriam Lifshits ordered the eviction of three Palestinian families living in Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood for right-wing activist’s company, Nahalat Shimon. The families lived there since the 1950s when the Jordanian government and the United Nations built homes for Palestinian refugees.
More than 700,000 Palestinian were driven out by Jewish militias in 1948. Thousands were displaced in the six-day war.
Since 1967, Israeli settler’s colonial organizations, namely Elad and Ateret Cohanim claimed ownership of Palestinian property in Jerusalem. They claim that the land belonged to the Yemeni Jews before 1948.
Citing this, the Ateret Cohanim settler group sued Palestinian residents of Batn al-Hawa. These colonial organisations are backed by the Israeli state, judiciary and security services. Sheikh Jarrah eviction allows Jews to reclaim east Yerushalayim property.
Under 1970 Israeli law, property restitution from before the 1948 war is allowed only to Jews. However, Palestinians have no rights. They cannot claim property abandoned before 1948. The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the pending expulsions under Israeli law for the establishment of Israeli settlements, is considered illegal under international law.
After the court’s postponement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated to the Palestinian Al-Ayyam newspaper of Washington’s opposition to still pending eviction of four Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah.
Israel’s ambassador, Meirav Eilon Shahar, called on member states to oppose today’s Geneva-based council special session as OIC called out to the UNHRC.
In the session, OIC demanded the establishment of a permanent commission to address “the grave human rights situation” in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. Meanwhile, Israeli accused the council of anti-Israel bias, refusing to cooperate with the council’s investigators.