[News] Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan: Ongoing Nakba and Israeli Dispossession of Palestinians

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu May 27 11:14:08 EDT 2021

Jarrah and Silwan: Ongoing Nakba and Israeli Dispossession of Palestinians
May 28, 2021


On 21 May 2021, a ceasefire announced the ending of Israel’s 11-day
military offensive on the Gaza Strip, which resulted in the killing of at
least 248 Palestinians, including 66 children, the demolition of thousands
of Palestinian houses, and the displacement of some 72,000 Palestinians.
However, the ceasefire did not end Israel’s institutionalised regime of
racial oppression, domination and dispossession, embedded in its
settler-colonial and apartheid regime over the Palestinian people as a

The Israeli dispossession of Palestinians takes various forms, implemented
through discriminatory laws and policies, all at the expense of
Palestinians. Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah and Batn Al-Hawa
neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem, for example, are still under the imminent
threat of being forcibly transferred, after settler organisations filed
cases against them in the Israeli courts.

Occupying and illegally annexing East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel unlawfully
extended the application of its own domestic legislation to the territory
it occupies, further displacing Palestinians and appropriating their
property. To cement Palestinian dispossession and displacement in East
Jerusalem, Israel enacted the Legal and Administrative Matters Law in 1970,
which exclusively allows Jews to pursue claims to land and property
allegedly owned by Jews in East Jerusalem before the establishment of the
State of Israel in 1948.

In Sheikh Jarrah, eight families of 19 household of 87 Palestinians, are at
imminent risk of forcible transfer, due to the separate case filed against
them before Israeli courts by the settler organisation Nahalat Shimon
International. Alarmingly, Nahalat Shimon International has previously
evicted three Palestinian families of around 67 Palestinians from the
aforementioned neighbourhood in 2008 and 2009.

The Israeli Supreme Court was supposed to hold a hearing on 10 May 2021 on
the forced eviction of eight Palestinian families living in Sheikh Jarrah,
but it was postponed. Waiting for the Court’s decision, residents of Sheikh
Jarrah have been leading a campaign, raising awareness about the situation,
and calling for solidarity activities in support of their struggle and in
resistance to Israel’s oppression. These efforts have been met with further
oppression, as the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) and Israeli settlers,
some of the latter being armed, have been suppressing and attacking
Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah, including by raiding and damaging houses,
firing tear gas canisters, sound bombs and skunk water, and arbitrarily
arresting them.

Since 7 May 2021, the IOF fully closed the entrances of the neighbourhood,
with metal barriers, only allowing Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah
to enter. On 16 May 2021, the IOF closed the neighbourhood with cement
blocks. The IOF would stop Palestinians and ask for their IDs. Only
residents of the neighbourhood are allowed access. Notably, these
restrictions did not affect Israeli settlers, as they can access the
neighbourhood freely, even if they do not reside in the neighbourhood.
Palestinians continued to show up in support at the entrances of the
neighbourhood, and they continued to be suppressed and targeted by the IOF.

In a similar context, today, 26 May 2021, the Jerusalem District Court held
a hearing on the forced eviction of some 108 Palestinians of 18 households
from their homes in Batn Al-Hawa neighbourhood in Silwan, occupied East
Jerusalem. The Court postponed its ruling.

Premising their claim on a property deed from the Ottoman rule period, the
Benvenisti Trust, a Jewish Trust, claims ownership of 5.2 dunums of Batn
Al-Hawa land. In 2002, the Custodian General transferred the land to the
Benvenisti Trust, whose management is in the hands of the settler
organisation Ateret Cohanim. The decision was sanctioned by the Jerusalem
District Court, and the transfer was done without informing the Palestinian
residents who have lived on the land since the 1950s, and who have
contracts proving so.

Since then, Ateret Cohanim has filed ‘eviction orders’ against the
Palestinian families. In 2017, the Palestinian residents filed a petition
with the Israeli High Court to contest the evictions, arguing that, and
according to the Ottoman law applied at the time, the ownership applies
only to the buildings, which do not exist anymore, but not the land itself.
In June 2018 the Israeli government acknowledged that the Israeli Custodian
General’s transfer of the land to the Benvenisti Trust was done without
investigating the nature of the Trust, the Ottoman laws, or the existing
buildings. Yet, the Israeli High Court rejected the appeals of the
families, paving the way for the settler group Ateret Cohanim to continue
legal proceedings to evict 81 Palestinian families, numbering approximately
436 Palestinians.

Most of the families living in Sheikh Jarrah and Batn Al-Hawa
neighbourhoods, who are facing the threat of forced eviction, are refugees,
who have been denied their right of return and to reclaim their original
land and properties. What is happening in Sheikh Jarrah and Batn Al-Hawa
exemplifies the overarching and the overall context of Palestine of
Israel’s maintenance and expansion of its settler-colonial and apartheid

Al-Haq reminds that the legal framework applicable in occupied East
Jerusalem is international humanitarian and international human rights law.
Israel is specifically prohibited from annexing the occupied territory
under Article 47 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. As such, Israel’s
application of its domestic law, including the Legal and Administrative
Matters Law in 1970, and provisions of Israel Tenancy law are not only
wrongful acts in violation of international law, of which there can be no
recognition, but acts which third States must collectively work to bring to
an end.

There are clear obligations under Article 43 of the Hague Regulations, to
continue the status quo ante belly including the preservation of private
tenancy rights, which are further protected as the private property of the
civilian population under Article 46 of the Hague Regulations.

In particular, such acts amount to forcible transfer, grave breaches of the
Geneva Conventions, and war crimes and crimes against humanity within the
jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

Al-Haq reaffirms the urgent need for the international community to address
the root causes of prolonged denial of Palestinian rights, and
long-practised Israeli violations, and stresses the need for the Office of
the Prosecutor to publicly condemn the imminent forced evictions of
Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah and Batn Al-Hawa neighbourhoods, urgently
investigate this case within the Situation of Palestine and intervene to
forestall the displacement of these Palestinian families from their homes.
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