Palestinian Family Faces Eviction from their Home in East Jerusalem

A Jerusalemite Palestinian family is facing eviction on Wednesday, August 9, from the home where they have lived for more than 50 years, after Israeli courts ruled that the house was Jewish property.

Ayoub Shamasna told the Palestinian news agency Ma’an on Monday, August 7, that his family had exhausted all legal avenues after Israeli courts ruled that the family had to be evacuated from the home, where 84-year-old Shamasna has lived since 1964, in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

A joint Palestinian-Israeli demonstration in front of the Shamasna family home in occupied East Jerusalem, August 4, 2017

A joint Palestinian-Israeli demonstration in front of the Shamasna family home in occupied East Jerusalem, August 4, 2017 (Photo: Activestills)

The magistrate court in Jerusalem, the district court, and the Israeli Supreme Court have all ruled in favor of claims that the house is Jewish property and that the owners could evict the Shamasnas. While the court decision was made final in 2016, the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem notified the Shamasna family on July 1 that the Palestinians had until Aug. 9 to evacuate the house. Shamasna’s son Muhammad, who lives in the house with his parents and children, told Ma’an that his family used to pay rent to the Jordanian government before 1967, when East Jerusalem was under Jordan’s custodianship.

After Israel occupied East Jerusalem following the Six-Day War, the building fell under Israeli administration, as the Israeli custodian made all residents sign shorter, renewable one-year leases. In 2009, however, the building’s custodian refused to renew the Shamasnas’ lease, stating that heirs of the Jewish homeowner had filed a lawsuit.

Muhammad Shamasna said that the municipality’s executive department had notified the family that if they didn’t evacuate the house willingly, they would be forcibly removed from the premises and charged for the costs of the eviction — including the work hours of the police officers and municipality employees involved.

“Though the house isn’t more precious than martyrs, prisoners, and the injured, we won’t leave it willingly and we will remain firm until the last moment,” Shamasna’s wife, Fahima Shamasna, said. “In this house, I gave birth to my eight children and raised them,” she added. “This house means a lot to us.”

A local committee in Sheikh Jarrah has organized a sit-in in front of the home in protest of the eviction order. A joint Palestinian-Israeli protest was held against the eviction last Friday, August 4, and another demonstration will be held next Friday, August 11, at 16:00 in Sheikh Jarrah.