UNRWA: Eviction of Shamasna Family ‘Appalling’

Sep 7 2017 / 12:20 am
Israeli law says Jewish Israelis are permitted to claim ownership over property believed to have been owned by Jews before 1948. (Photo: Ma'an)

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) released a statement on Wednesday condemning the eviction of the Shamasna family from their home of 53 years in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah on Tuesday.

Director of UNRWA Scott Anderson, who visited the family on Wednesday, said in the statement that he was “appalled at the resumption of forced evictions in Sheikh Jarrah and particularly worried about the humanitarian impact on this refugee family.”

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.

Sheikh Jarrah has become a central target for Jewish ownership claims, as Jewish Israelis believe the neighborhood was 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.

These evicted refugee families had their homes built for them by the United Nations in the 1950s. However, since the land itself in Sheikh Jarrah was the alleged site of an old Jewish community, Jewish Israelis are still able to make claims on the homes.

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.

Anderson emphasized that the UNRWA Crisis Intervention Unit has continued to remain with the Shamasna family on the ground to provide immediate assistance. The statement highlighted that a program was funded by the European Union in order for UNRWA to provide emergency assistance to the displaced family, including rental and cash assistance and specialized health services, such as psycho-social support.

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

France also condemned the eviction of the Shamasna family on Tuesday, reiterating the government’s stance that all Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem are considered illegal under international law, and called upon Israeli authorities to halt such activities.

(Ma’an, PC, Social Media)

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