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Israeli court evicts family from East Jerusalem home

An Israeli magistrate's court ruled July 21 to evict a Palestinian family from their home in East Jerusalem, after a six year legal battle to prove ownership of the property. The court ruled that the house is absentee property and ordered the Siam family to leave the premises by the end of July, Nathira Siam told Ma'an News Agency. The family was also ordered to pay 40,000 shekels ($11,200) as a rent supplement and 20,000 shekels ($5,600) to the court, Siam said. Nathira said that the family have lived in the property since the 1960s. "I've been renting the property from a woman called Sabriye Taha who has the rental contract and have been paying her regularly," she said. "When she passed away, Israel changed the ownership of the house to absentee property..."

The house is 60 square meters and has two rooms where the family of eight live. "I will not leave the house, it has all our memories and I will not allow for a settler to take it and live in our home," Siam said. "I always get harassed by settlers to provoke me to leave it, but I will not leave it for them."

The Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah is a front-line in the battle to evict Palestinian families to make way for Israeli settlers. According to the UN, 33% of all Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem lack Israeli-issued building permits, potentially placing at least 93,100 residents at risk of displacement. Figures from Israeli NGO Bimkom show that 95% of Palestinian applications for a building permit are rejected.

Since 1967, the Israeli authorities have demolished some 2,000 houses in East Jerusalem. Over 1,630 Palestinians were made homeless in house demolitions carried out by Israel between 2004-2012, B'Tselem says.

Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordanian control in a 1967 war and later annexed it, a move never recognized internationally. Homes owned by Jews before the 1948 war to establish Israel were reverted to their original owners by Israeli law after 1967. Palestinian-owned homes lost in 1948 were not restored.

From Ma'an News Agency, July 21

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