Palestinian family evicted from East Jerusalem home after long court fight

By Ed Adamczyk  |  Sept. 5, 2017 at 9:25 AM
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Sept. 5 (UPI) -- A Palestinian family was evicted Tuesday from an East Jerusalem house where they claimed to have lived for more than 50 years, the first such removal in eight years

The eight-member Shamasneh family, which includes a disabled man, 84, and his wife, 75, was removed by Israeli police after a years-long legal fight.

Prior Jewish residents of the building said it was theirs, noting that they were forced to escape from East Jerusalem when it became occupied by Jordanian troops in 1948 during Israel's war for independence. Thousands of Jews fled parts of Jerusalem during the city's occupation, and thousands of Palestinians fled from the territory decades later following the Six Day War in 1967 when it was reunited as Israel.

Under Israeli law, Jews who can prove their families lived in East Jerusalem prior to 1948 can claim ownership rights to property. There is no similar legal provision for Palestinian property claims.

In 2013, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Jewish owners of the house, who subsequently sold the house to unidentified buyers. The high court and lower courts ruled that the Shamasneh family failed to prove they had lived in the home before 1968, which could have given them protected tenant status.

At the time of its ruling, the Israeli Supreme Court deferred eviction of the Shamasneh family on humanitarian grounds. The family was ultimately served with an eviction, however, when the legal challenge was renewed recently, Haaretz reported.

Except for the spray-painting of the word "thieves" on a door -- in Hebrew, English and Arabic -- and an attempt by one member of the Shamasneh family to re-enter the home after the eviction, the transfer at the home in East Jerusalem's upscale Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood was completed peacefully.

The Shamasneh family's was the first eviction under the Israeli law since 2009.

"Settlers are already inside the Shamasneh family's home," a statement by the pro-Palestinian organization Peace Now said later Tuesday. "The eviction of the Shamasneh family, who resided in the house since 1964, is not only brutal but it is also indicating a dangerous trend that could threaten a future compromise in Jerusalem."

Israel regards Jerusalem as a single, unified city, while Palestinians see East Jerusalem as the future capital if Palestine achieves statehood.

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