Israel appears to have bowed to international pressure and delayed the forced eviction of Palestinian families from their homes in occupied East Jerusalem. The court hearing for the evictions was due to take place today but has been postponed following this weekend’s assault by Israeli police against unarmed Palestinians and the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque during the last few days of the holy month of Ramadan.
The hearing was cancelled at the request of Israel’s Attorney General. It is expected to take place in 30 days’ time. According to Israeli media, Avichai Mandelblit appended a secret document to his request for a deferral, citing the opinion of security services that evictions could lead to spiralling violence.
More than 300 Palestinians have needed medical attention, Palestinian medics have reported in the wake of the onslaught by Israel’s paramilitary police. In one of the ugliest scenes on Saturday night, the police broke down the door of Al-Aqsa Mosque as hundreds of worshippers gathered to pray. The police then fired stun grenades and tear gas.
Police violence within the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa, has sparked near universal condemnation. Gulf countries, including the UAE, which normalised ties with Israel last year, have expressed their opposition.
“What the Israeli police and Special Forces are doing, from violations against the mosque to attacks on worshippers, is barbaric,” said Jordan, which has legal custodianship of the mosque and other Muslim and Christian holy places in the occupied Palestinian territories, on Sunday. Turkey called the actions “terrorism.”
Today, the UN Security Council is expected to convene an emergency session to discuss the escalating violence in occupied Jerusalem. The session will be held hours before a scheduled annual march of thousands of ultra-nationalist Jews through the holy city. It’s feared that this provocation by far-right settlers may erupt into further violence.
The latest round of forced evictions of Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah is led by a right-wing settler group which claims to have title deeds for the homes which, in reality, belong to the Palestinians. Under international law, Israel is an occupying power and its courts have no jurisdiction in the territory it occupies.The forced eviction of Palestinian families is an example of Israel’s crime of apartheid. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Friday that the law is “applied in an inherently discriminatory manner”. It added that the transfer of Israeli civilians onto occupied land could be “prohibited under international humanitarian law and may amount to a war crime.”
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, including citizens of Israel, hold deeds to the properties from which they were expelled in 1948 in a campaign described by Israeli historians as ethnic cleansing. Many faced a second wave of expulsions in 1967. Despite holding keys and deeds to their homes, they are not permitted to return to their country and reclaim their properties, many of which have been given to illegal Jewish settlers from Europe and America.