Palestinian family lose their home to Israeli settlers

Former Mufti of Jerusalem Ekrima Sabri at the Shamasneh home in Sheikh Jarrah. (Waqf photo)
Updated 07 August 2017
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Palestinian family lose their home to Israeli settlers

AMMAN: Fahamiya Shamasneh, 75, and her ailing husband Ayoub, 84, have lived in the same house in East Jerusalem for more than 50 years. On Wednesday, Israel plans to throw them out.
Their home will be handed over to Israeli settlers as part of a wider plan to boost illegal Jewish settlements in the predominantly Palestinian area of Sheikh Jarrah.
It will be the first eviction there since 2009, according to the Israeli anti-occupation group Peace Now, and has become part of a fight over the disputed status of Jerusalem.
The Shamasneh family have been living in the house since 1964 and have been paying rent regularly, which they believed gave them legal housing guarantees as protected tenants.
Nevertheless, Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled that Fahamiya, Ayoub, their son and his family have until Aug. 9 to voluntarily leave the cramped, 50-square-meter basement of their building or be forced out.
“Fifty-three years here means leaving is not easy — it is a lifetime. I was a young girl when I came to this house,” Fahamiya told AFP. “The police are threatening us. We don’t know what to do.”
Fahamiya said they had been told to leave peacefully or they would have to pay the cost of the eviction, which could be up to 70,000 shekels ($19,000).
They had not found anywhere else to go, she said.
“We will not leave of our own will. Maybe if they force us, carry us and throw us on the streets, then we’ll go. But for us to lock the door and tell them ‘here are the keys,’ that’s impossible.”
Palestinian political activists believe the eviction of the Shamasnehs and about 20 other families is a reaction to what Israel considers the humiliation of having to agree to Palestinian demands to remove security barriers at Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Eyad Shamasneh, a family member, told Arab News that the case has been in Israeli courts for years.
“Israel has targeted Sheikh Jarrah because it is close to the nearby Hebrew University on Mount Scopus.”
Daniel Seidemann, an Israeli lawyer who focuses on Jerusalem issues, said events in Sheikh Jarrah had implications  for the whole city. “Sheikh Jarrah, like any other East Jerusalem neighborhood, is a community at risk, and this is a big problem in terms of the stability and peace of the city and its political future.”
Under a decades-old Israeli law, if Jews can prove their families lived in East Jerusalem homes before 1948, they can demand that Israel’s general custodian office release the property and return their “ownership rights.”
No such law exists for Palestinians who lost their land.
According to historians, the neighborhood got its name from the 13th-century tomb of Sheikh Jarrah, a physician of Saladin.
Until 1967, Sheikh Jarrah straddled the no-man’s land between Jordanian-held East Jerusalem and Israeli-held West Jerusalem. When all of Jerusalem was occupied by Israel after the 1967 war, Israeli ambitions to claim Sheikh Jarrah grew. It is now at the center of several property disputes between Palestinians and Israelis.
Most of its current Palestinian population are refugees expelled from Talbiya in Jerusalem in 1948.


Israel braces for more wildfires as temperatures spike

Updated 24 May 2019
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Israel braces for more wildfires as temperatures spike

  • Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes on Thursday as fires raged
  • The fires were fueled by high temperatures and dry condition

JERUSALEM: Israel is bracing for renewed wildfires amid a major heat wave that shows no signs of abating.
Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes on Thursday as fires raged, fueled by high temperatures and dry conditions.
The EU ambassador, Emanuele Giaufret, said Israel had asked for international help to combat the fires, and aid was arriving on Friday from Cyprus and Italy.
Plumes of smoke rose from hillsides in the country’s center and south as firefighters worked into the early hours to control the blaze.
The cause of the blaze remains unclear, but it erupted following the Jewish festival of Lag Ba’Omer, which observers mark with bonfires.
A sweltering heat wave is pushing temperatures in parts of the country up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, or 43 Celsius.