An Israeli magistrate court suspended the eviction of the Shamasna family in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem yesterday after the family refused to leave their home of 53 years amid claims that it was the property of Israeli settlers.
During a court session to consider an appeal presented by the family's lawyer, Said Ghaliyeh, the court suspended the eviction order, after challenges were presented on the lack of documentation of the plots of lands in the neighbourhood at the municipality. In order for the eviction order to be enforced, the courts must determine exactly which land was owned by Jews before 1948 based on land documentation records.
According to Israeli law, Jewish Israelis are permitted to claim ownership over property believed to have been owned by Jews before 1948 during Ottoman or British rule. However, such a law does not exist for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees who were displaced from their lands and homes during and after the establishment of the state of Israel.
Israelis have claimed that Sheikh Jarrah was once the site of a 19th century Jewish community. Many families in the neighbourhood have been embroiled in legal disputes for decades, as various Israeli settlers have attempted to claim ownership over their homes.
In addition, the appeal is based on the health of 84-year-old Ayoub Shamasna, who has lived in the home since 1964, and suffers from several illnesses. According to the appeal, the eviction could adversely affect his and his 75-year-old wife's health.
The judge suspended the eviction and postponed the case "until further notice", Fatah movement official in Jerusalem Hatem Abd al-Qader told Ma'an.
Abd Al-Qader warned that while the eviction order has been temporarily suspended, "Israeli courts have supported the settlers' claims since the beginning of the case and rejected all documents presented by the [Palestinian] family."
In a statement on Tuesday, spokesperson for United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Chris Gunness condemned the threat of eviction.
"It is a matter of deep concern that Palestine refugees who have already endured multiple displacements should be subject to the humiliation of the kind inflicted by forced evictions," Gunness said.
Last week, in a show of solidarity, Palestinians held Friday prayers at the Shamasna family home.