[Batn al-Hawa ] Israel postpones appeal of Palestine families being displaced from Jerusalem

Palestinians stage a protest against Israeli court's decision to evict homes of Palestinian families in Silwan (Eyad Tawil - Anadolu Agency)

Middle East Monitor  /  June 10, 2021

Israel’s Central Court has decided to postpone the consideration of the petition of two Palestinian families against their forced eviction from the Batn al-Hawa neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem.

This morning, the court delayed the hearing on behalf of the Al-Rajabi and Abu Nab families until early next month. Outside the court Israeli police assaulted residents and members of the two families who gathered in a show of support. At least three people were arrested according to the Wafa news agency.

There is growing concern that the neighbourhood located in the Silwan area will be “the next Sheikh Jarrah“, as Israel attempts to Judaize these historic Arab neighbourhoods with Jewish settlers. The events in Sheikh Jarrah caused the worst violence in recent times between Israeli settlers and local Palestinians in the city and in occupied West Bank, but also Palestinian citizens of Israel.

The desecration of Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan also sparked the recent Israeli military offensive against Gaza as resistance factions retaliated to the state-sanctioned aggression in Jerusalem.

Up to 86 Jerusalemite families face the threat of displacement in Batn al-Hawa as their homes are being claimed by the Ateret Cohanim settler organization. According to this group, the homes are built on land owned by Yemeni Jews who lived in the area before the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. The Jewish Yemeni Heritage Center was set up by the organization in Batn al-Hawa in 2018.

The head of the local council in Batn al-Hawa, Zuhair al-Rajabi, was quoted by Al-Monitor as saying that in 2015, Ateret Cohanim delivered eviction notices to the residents of the neighbourhood claiming ownership of the land. “We have deeds and we have been living in the neighbourhood for more than 60 years,” Rajabi explained.

Despite the settler group’s claims that the land belonged to Yemeni Jews since 1881, during the Ottoman era, the courts have refused to take into consideration documents from the same era submitted by the families proving their right to the houses and the land on which they are built.

Israeli courts have continuously ruled in favour of Ateret Cohanim’s claims, although residents have lodged appeals, the ruling has been repeatedly postponed, with the Supreme Court currently reviewing the case.

A member of one of the two affected families, Sharaf Ghaith, told Al-Araby al-Jadeed that the settler organization’s assertions are based on “forged documents”, stressing that the family will not leave their home “whatever the price”.