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

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.


Suspected arson at East Jerusalem mosque

Israeli border policemen take up position during clashes with Palestinian demonstrators at a protest against Trump's decision on Jerusalem, near Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank March 9, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 January 2020

Suspected arson at East Jerusalem mosque

  • The attack had the appearance of a “price tag” attack, a euphemism for Jewish nationalist-motivated hate crimes that generally target Palestinian or Arab Israeli property

JERUSALEM: Israeli police launched a manhunt on Friday after an apparent arson attack, accompanied by Hebrew-language graffiti, at a mosque in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem.
“Police were summoned to a mosque in Beit Safafa, in Jerusalem, following a report of arson in one of the building’s rooms and spraying of graffiti on a nearby wall outside the building,” a police statement said.
“A wide-scale search is taking place in Jerusalem,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP. “We believe that the incident took place overnight. We are searching for suspects.”
The spokesman would not say if police viewed it as a hate crime. The graffiti, on a wall in the mosque compound and viewed by an AFP journalist, contained the name Kumi Ori, a small settlement outpost in the north of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The Times of Israel newspaper said on Friday that the wildcat outpost “is home to seven families along with roughly a dozen extremist Israeli teens.”
“Earlier this month security forces razed a pair of illegally built settler homes in the outpost,” it reported.
All settlements on occupied Palestinian land are considered illegal under international law, but Israel distinguishes between those it has approved and those it has not.
The paper said: “A number of young settlers living there were involved in a string of violent attacks on Palestinians and (Israeli) security forces.”
Police said that nobody was injured in the mosque incident.
The attack had the appearance of a “price tag” attack, a euphemism for Jewish nationalist-motivated hate crimes that generally target Palestinian or Arab Israeli property in revenge for nationalistic attacks against Israelis or Israeli government moves against unauthorized outposts like Kumi Ori.
“This is price tag,” Israeli Arab lawmaker Osama Saadi told AFP at the scene.
“The settlers didn’t only write words, they also burned the place and they burnt a Qur’an,” said Saadi, who lives in the area.
Ismail Awwad, the local mayor, said he called the police after he found apparent evidence of arson, pointing to an empty can he said had contained petrol or some other accelerant and scorch marks in the burned room.
“The fire in the mosque burned in many straight lines which is a sign that somebody poured inflammable material,” he said.
There was damage to an interior prayer room but the building’s structure was unharmed.
In December, more than 160 cars were vandalized in the Shuafaat neighborhood of east Jerusalem with anti-Arab slogans scrawled nearby.
The slogans read “Arabs=enemies,” “There is no room in the country for enemies” and “When Jews are stabbed we aren’t silent.”
The attackers were described by a local resident as “masked settlers.”