An Israeli court has postponed a hearing in the case of two Palestinian families facing the forced displacement of their homes in the Batn al-Hawa area in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.
The Ghaith and Abu Nab families were joined by a group of supporters who gathered outside Israel’s central court on Thursday to demonstrate against the forced evictions.
Israeli forces attacked protesters and arrested three Palestinians identified as Basel al-Dweik, Adel al-Silwadi and Nitham Abu Ramooz.
The hearing was postponed to August 7.
The Ghaith and Abu Nab families are two of hundreds threatened with forced eviction from their homes in the neighborhoods of Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah, where Israeli settler organizations seek to replace Palestinians with Israelis.
Last month, an Israeli court deferred its ruling on an appeal filed by seven other Palestinian families in Silwan facing forced displacement of their homes.
Earlier this week, the Jerusalem Municipality issued a series of demolition orders to residents of the al-Bustan neighborhood in Silwan. Affected families, made up of around 1,500 people, had 21 days to evacuate and demolish their homes themselves. Failure to do so would mean that the municipality would demolish the houses and the families would have to cover the costs of the demolition.
Since 2005, the residents of al-Bustan have received warnings to demolish nearly 90 houses under the pretext of building without a permit, in favor of a settler organization seeking to turn the land into a national park and connect it to the “City of Park David.
According to Grassroots Jerusalem, a Palestinian NGO, court-ordered house demolitions and forced displacement are tactics used to evict Palestinian residents.
It is very important to note: the policy of displacement is an ongoing policy used against the Jerusalemites. The occupation authorities systematically ban building permits to Palestinian residents, forcing them to build houses without a permit. Then they charge hefty fines.
– Basic Al-Quds (@grassroots_quds) June 9, 2021
In a statement released Thursday, Palestinian rights organization Al-Haq said Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem made up the majority of the population, but that “Israeli zoning laws have allocated 35% of the land area of territory to the construction of illegal settlements by Israeli settlers ”.
Another 52% of the land area has been “assigned as” green areas “and” unplanned areas “in which construction is prohibited,” the statement said.
Silwan is located south of the Old City of Jerusalem, next to its walls.
At least 33,000 Palestinians live in the neighborhood, which has been the target of Israeli settler organizations for years. In some cases, Palestinian residents have been forced to share homes with settlers.
Some of these families have lived in Silwan for over fifty years since they were moved from the Old Town in the 1960s.
In 2001, Ateret Cohanim, an organization of Israeli settlers that aims to acquire land and increase the Jewish presence in occupied East Jerusalem, took control of a historic Jewish land trust.
Established in the 19th century, the trust purchased land in the region to relocate Yemeni Jews of the time. The settler organization claimed in court that the trust it controls owns the land.
Under Israeli law, if Jews can prove that their families lived in East Jerusalem before Israel’s creation in 1948, they can seek “restitution” of their property, even if Palestinian families have lived there for decades. . The law only applies to Israelis, and Palestinians do not have the same rights under the law.
“There is clear discrimination here, where Jews can claim any property they claim to have owned in the past prior to 1948, while Palestinians who lost their homeland in 500 villages inside Israel, including West Jerusalem cannot claim their property, ”Mohammed Dahleh, a lawyer representing some of the Silwan families, told Al Jazeera.
“These families cannot claim their properties, although they hold Israeli identity cards and are considered residents of the State of Israel under Israeli law,” he continued.
“This means that this community, if the Israeli courts end up approving this type of forced displacement, will become refugees for the second time. “