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Israeli court freezes evacuation of Sheikh Jarrah family

Feb. 1, 2013 8:25 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 3, 2013 7:25 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- An Israeli court in Jerusalem on Wednesday decided to freeze evacuation of a family’s houses in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem.

The family of Abdul-Raziq al-Sabbagh's case has been pending in Israeli courts since 1972.

The Jerusalem-based Al-Quds newspaper quoted the family's lawyer Salih Abu Hussein as saying the court decision will pave the way for other Palestinian families to retrieve their properties in Sheikh Jarrah which Israeli settlers have already occupied or are planning to occupy.

An Israeli magistrate court ordered the al-Sabbagh family last year to evacuate the buildings. The decision was frozen after an appeal by the family against a committee of eastern Jews which claimed ownership of the houses.

The lawyer submitted to the court deeds that prove the houses belonged to the al-Sabbagh family. According to the deed, the houses were private properties belonging to Hajj Abdul-Raziq al-Sabbagh based on an agreement with the Jordanian authorities in 1956.

"The jury decided to freeze the evacuation decision after it was made clear to them that the documents submitted by the committee of eastern Jews were questionable. However, the decision isn't final. The court is yet to decide who the owner of the houses are," the lawyer told Al-Quds.

Commenting on the decision, Muhammad al-Sabbagh said it could lay the grounds for reconsidering the whole case of Sheikh Jarrah, especially the private land tracts owned by Palestinian residents of the neighborhood. The decision, he added, refutes settlers' claims over 40 years that they own these lands.

The decision is related to five houses owned by five brothers from the al-Sabbagh family. The report by Al-Quds identified them as Muhammad, Rabee, Bassam, Basim and Ghalib al-Sabbagh. About 30 members of al-Sabbagh family live in these houses.

The governor of Jerusalem Adnan al-Husseini said the decision to freeze evacuation is a glimpse of hope for 28 other houses in Sheikh Jarrah. He highlighted that settlers had already occupied six of these houses, and the rest are slated for confiscation.

"We will seek to retrieve the houses settlers occupied in order to protect this neighborhood and thwart the Israeli plans to control it and evacuate its indigenous Palestinian residents," added al-Husseini.
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