Shamasna Family Eviction Suspended in Israeli Court

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

An Israeli magistrate court suspended the eviction of the Shamasna family in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem on Thursday, after the family refused to leave their home of 53 years amid claims that it was the property of Israeli settlers.

During a court session to consider an appeal presented by the family’s lawyer Said Ghaliyeh, the court ruled to suspend the eviction order, after challenges were presented by Ghaliyeh on the lack of documentation of the plots of lands in the neighborhood on the municipal level. In order for the eviction order to be enforced, the courts must determine exactly which land was owned by Jews before 1948 based on land documentation records.

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.

Israelis have claimed that Sheikh Jarrah was once the site of a 19th century Jewish community. Many families in the neighborhood have been embroiled in legal disputes for decades, as various Israeli settlers have attempted to claim ownership over their homes.

In addition, the appeal is based on the health of 84-year-old Ayoub Shamasna, who has lived in the home since 1964, and suffers from several illnesses. According to the appeal, the eviction could adversely affect the health of Ayoub and his 75-year-old wife.

An official from the Fatah movement in Jerusalem Hatem Abd al-Qader said that the Israeli judge had transferred lawyers for the family and the settlers to the execution department of Israel’s Enforcement and Collection Authority to begin procedures of marking the land to determine how much of the home was built on so-called Jewish property.

However, the Israeli settlers have rejected the order, instead demanding that the court issue an immediate decision on the family’s appeal, Abd al-Qader said.

The judge had suspended the eviction and postponed working on the case “until further notice,” Abd al-Qader told Ma’an.

He said that he hoped the suspension of the eviction order would allow Ghaliyeh to collect more documents and information that could prevent or postpone the eviction for a longer period of time. Israeli authorities had previously given the family until Aug. 9 to voluntarily leave the house; however, the family refused.

Abd al-Qader pointed out that while the eviction order has been temporarily suspended, it was not for the benefit of the family. “Israeli courts have supported the settlers’ claims since the beginning of the case and rejected all documents presented by the family,” he added.

Spokesperson for United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Chris Gunness said in a statement on Tuesday condemning the eviction threat.  “It is a matter of deep concern that Palestine refugees who have already endured multiple displacements should be subject to the humiliation of the kind inflicted by forced evictions,” Gunness said.

(Maan, PC, Social Media)


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