Palestinian Home under Threat of Settler Takeover Becomes House of Prayer

An illegal settler raises an Israeli flag near the Abu Rajab family home that was recently stolen and is now occupied by settlers. (Photo: ActiveStills.org, file)

Scores of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem performed prayers outside the Shamasna home in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood on Friday in a show of solidarity with the family, who is facing imminent evacuation from their home of 53 years to make room for Israeli settlers claiming they own the family’s home.

Ekrima Sabri, head of the High Islamic Committee, said during the Friday khutbah – Islamic sermon – that “the land that the Shamasna family home is built on belongs to the family, and not to Jews.” He said that the Shamasna family had rented the house from its “original owners” since before 1948 – the year Israel was established.

However, Sabri’s claims contradict reports that the family patriarch, Ayoub Shamasna, moved into the house in 1964.

The family has told Ma’an that they were forced to flee the Jerusalem-area village of Qatanna some 69 years ago during the creation of Israel. While the village is now part of the occupied West Bank, it is located close to Israeli territory.

After 1948, the village mostly became a “no-man’s land” after Israel declared a buffer zone between Israel and what was then Jordanian territory, forcing the village’s residents to flee the area.

The magistrate court in Jerusalem, the district court, and the Israeli Supreme Court have all ruled in favor of claims that the Shamasna house is Jewish property and that the owners could evict the family.

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.

Muhammad Shamasna said that the municipality had notified the family that if they did not evacuate the house willingly by August 9, they would be forcibly removed from the premises and charged for the costs of the eviction – including the work hours of the police officers and municipality employees involved.

However, the family has refuses to leave.

According to a report released by the UN following the 2009 settler takeovers, hundreds of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah are under threat of eviction by Israeli settlers groups – mostly led by the Nahalat Shimon International settler organization.

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, 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.

(Maan, PC, Social Media)

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