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Israeli forces raid Sheikh Jarrah, threaten 7 Palestinian homes with eviction

Sept. 4, 2017 4:54 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 5, 2017 10:35 A.M.)
Israeli police patrol a street in Jabbal al-Mukabbir, a Palestinian neighbourhood of East Jerusalem (AFP, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities raided the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday and delivered eviction notices to six families in the area, also raiding the home of the Shamasna family, who has recently been fighting eviction from their home of 53 years.

A local committee in the neighborhood told Ma’an that Israeli authorities handed over six eviction notices to the Tarwa, Shalalda, and Bader families. The six houses are home to about 30 Palestinians.

Meanwhile, Israeli police forces raided the home of the Shamasna family, telling them that they had until Sept. 9 to voluntarily leave their home.

An Israeli court decided on Aug. 18 to suspend their eviction due to challenges submitted by the family's lawyer based on the lack of documentation of the plots of lands in the neighborhood on the municipal level. The lawyer reportedly argued that the land was not properly divided and the plot settlers were claiming was not same one as the Shamasna home.

Reports emerged on Aug. 21 that the appeal was eventually rejected by the court, but that the family's lawyer said more legal steps could be taken. A spokesperson for Israel's Jerusalem municipality did not respond to a request to confirm the reports at the time.

Meanwhile, a municipality spokesperson told Ma'an on Sunday that the municipality was not involved in either the raid of the Shamasna home or the delivery of the eviction orders in the neighborhood. An Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

Like the Shamasna family, the families that were delivered eviction notices on Sunday are being forced out of their homes amid claims that the properties belong to Israeli settlers.

According to Israeli law, Jewish Israelis are permitted to claim ownership over property believed to have been owned by Jews before 1948 during Ottoman or British rule. However, such a law does not exist for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees who were displaced from their lands and homes during and after the establishment of the state of Israel.

Israelis have claimed that Sheikh Jarrah was once the site of a 19th century Jewish community. Many families in the neighborhood have been embroiled in legal disputes for decades, as various Israeli settlers have attempted to claim ownership over their homes.

Before the 1967 Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the Shamasna, Tarwa, Shalalda, Bader families had rented the property from the Jordanian government.

Some of the properties that had once been owned by Jews -- thousands of whom fled East Jerusalem during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war -- were repurposed by the Jordanian government, who took control over the territory following the war, to house some of the approximately 750,000 Palestinians who were forced from homes that were consumed by the new Israeli state.

When Israel took control over the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza after the Six-Day War in 1967, the Jordanian-controlled properties were transferred to Israel's general custodian.

If the eviction plans are carried out, they would be the first evictions in the neighborhood since 2009, when the Um Kamel al-Kurd, Ghawi, and Hanoun families were evicted from their homes by Israeli settlers under similar ownership claims.

Meanwhile in late August, Arieh King, director of right-wing settler organization the Israel Land Fund (ILF) -- which receives tax-deductible status as a nonprofit in the United States -- told an Israeli newspaper that up to 500 Israeli families would move into the neighborhood within the next decade.

The ILF has been behind several evictions in Sheikh Jarrah, including the attempts against the Shamasna family and the evictions of the Um Kamel al-Kurd, Ghawi, and Hanoun families in 2009.

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