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Palestinians perform Friday prayers outside Shamasna family home in Sheikh Jarrah

Sept. 8, 2017 5:54 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 9, 2017 2:52 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem performed Friday prayers in front of the Shamasna family home in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in an act of protest against the family’s forced eviction on Tuesday when their home of 53 years was transferred to the ownership of Israeli settlers.

Members of the Shamasna family participated in the prayers held outside their home, along with Palestinian Mayor of Jerusalem Adnan al-Husayni, Fatah’s Jerusalem Secretary Shadi Mtour, Fatah official Hattem Abd al-Qader, and other religious and national figures.
Sheikh Abdullah Alqam, who gave Friday’s Khutbah -- Islamic sermon -- condemned the expulsion of the Shamasna family from their home and said that the Israeli legal system was “bias” towards Israeli settlers.

Alqam said that despite Israel’s relentless attempts to displace Palestinians from Jerusalem, Jerusalemites were determined to defend their rights and existence in the city.

Muhammad Shamasna, 45, and his son Dirar, 23, were released from Israeli jail on Thursday after being arrested during the settler-driven eviction on Tuesday. While earlier reports noted that no release conditions were placed on the two, locals said on Friday that Muhammad was banned from entering Sheikh Jarrah for two weeks. It was unclear if this also applied to Dirar.
The Shamasna family was the latest Palestinian family to be evicted from the neighborhood since 2009 under an Israeli law that allows Jewish Israelis to claim ownership over properties that had once been owned by Jews before 1948, when thousands fled East Jerusalem during the Arab-Israeli war.

However, this law does not extend to Palestinians, hundreds of thousands of whom were displaced from their lands and homes in present-day Israel in 1948.

Sheikh Jarrah has become a central target for Jewish ownership claims, as the neighborhood was allegedly once the site of a 19th century Jewish community.

In 2009, the Um Kamel al-Kurd, Ghawi, and Hanoun families were completely evicted from their homes, while Israeli settlers partially took over the al-Kurd family home, who still live side-by-side years later. More than 60 Palestinians were displaced during the wave of evictions in 2009.

On Sunday, six more Palestinian families were handed eviction notices, ordering them to leave their homes within 30 days owing to Israeli settler claims on their properties.
The European Union Representative and the EU Heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah released a joint statement on Friday condemning the eviction in Sheikh Jarrah.

“Further settlement plans foreseeing large scale construction and evictions in Sheikh Jarrah are being moved forward by the planning authorities. The EU has repeatedly called on the Israeli authorities to reconsider these decisions,” the statement read.

The statement reiterated the EU’s stance on the illegality of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory and “its strong opposition to Israel's settlement policy and actions taken in this context, including evictions and demolitions.”

“Settlement activity in East Jerusalem seriously jeopardizes the possibility of Jerusalem serving as the future capital of both States,” the statement added.
Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) Scott Anderson said in the statement on Wednesday that he was “appalled at the resumption of forced evictions in Sheikh Jarrah and particularly worried about the humanitarian impact on this refugee family (Shamasna).”

“Palestine refugees, who have already endured multiple episodes of displacement, should not be subjected to forced evictions,” Anderson said.

According to UN documentation, 180 Palestinian families -- comprising of 818 individuals, 372 of whom are children -- are at risk of forcible displacement in East Jerusalem owing to settler-driven evictions. UNRWA noted that in Sheikh Jarrah, 60 percent of those at risk of displacement are Palestinian refugees.
Israeli rights group Ir Amim has noted that Israeli settler plans have focused on taking control of the entire neighborhood and then demolishing it to establish a massive Jewish settlement there.

The settlement would be called Shimon HaTzadik, named after the tomb of the biblical figure Simeon the Just, which is believed by Jews to be located in the neighborhood, and which the 19th century Jewish community had also allegedly once been called.
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