MASSES of people surrounded the Israeli High Court yesterday protesting against the eviction of families in the Sheikh Jarrah district of Jerusalem.
Israel’s supreme court was holding a hearing yesterday on the case of Palestinian families facing expulsion by Israeli settlers in annexed east Jerusalem, an issue that sparked conflict in May.
During yesterday’s protest a settler opened fire on a youth at the solidarity event injuring him in the foot.
Israeli police closed off the area following the incident.
The four Palestinian families – Kurd, Skafi, Jaouni, and al-Qassem – have appealed to the High Court against their forced eviction from their homes to make way for Israeli settler organisations.
Violent clashes in May over the Sheikh Jarrah evictions spread to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound, sparking a crackdown by Israeli security forces.
That triggered an 11-day war with Israel bombarding the Gaza Strip, which ended in a tense ceasefire.
The four Sheikh Jarrah Palestinian families have requested that the Supreme Court now hears an appeal on their case, after the Magistrate and District Courts both ruled their homes belong to Jewish settlers.
The Israeli court system normally allows only one appeal after a ruling.
Since the Palestinians had already appealed the Magistrate Court ruling, the Supreme Court must decide whether to make an exception in this case.
The two lower courts had ruled that, under Israeli property law, the homes in question ‘belonged to Jewish owners, who purchased the plots prior to the 1948 war that led to the creation of Israel.’
However, the homes unequivocally belong to the Palestinians and settlers have no right to evict them.
In 1956, when east Jerusalem was under Jordanian control, Amman leased plots of land to the families in Sheikh Jarrah, and the UN agency for Palestinian refugees built homes for them.
Amman promised to register them in their name, but never gave them full property rights.
But in 1967, Israel occupied east Jerusalem, and then annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.
In 1970, Israel enacted a law under which Jews could reclaim land in east Jerusalem they lost in 1948, even if Palestinians by then already lived on it.
No such option exists for Palestinians who lost their homes or land.
Israeli anti-settlement group Ir Amim says that over 1,000 Palestinians are at risk of losing their homes to Jewish settler groups and individuals in Sheikh Jarrah and the adjacent Silwan neighbourhood.