An Israel court ordered that 6 Palestinian families in East Jerusalem were required to leave their homes on May 2, but in order to facilitate an Israeli settler takeover of those homes the order has been delayed until Thursday, driving a violent reaction in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli settler organisations seek to drive 26 Palestinian families, amounting to 550 people, out of their homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. The expulsions were ordered, by the ‘Jerusalem District Court’, to begin from May 2, but delayed a few more days in order to facilitate the Israeli takeover of the homes. The first expulsion will drive out 6 Palestinian families, whilst on August 1st a further 7 families will be driven out, to be replaced by illegal Israeli settlers.
The delay to the Sunday expulsion deadline reportedly came over disputes as on how to facilitate the settler take over of the homes. Now, the Israeli court has ruled that by Thursday the Palestinian families must come to an agreement with the Israeli settler groups in order to organize an orderly theft of their homes. Imagine that, the court’s idea of civility is to allow you time to speak with the illegal thieves so that their crime is done in an orderly way.
The Israeli law that the courts rely upon in order to justify the takeover of Palestinian properties, is the 1950 Absentees’ Property Law, which enables Jewish Israelis the ability to claim homes which were at one point occupied by Jews. No such law exists for Palestinians who were expelled or used to live in properties now occupied by Jews.
However, the Israeli law simply can’t be applied to Sheikh Jarrah, and the whole case is a one-sided legal farce. This is indisputably the case because most of the Palestinian residents of the area were actually ethnically cleansed from what is now Israel and the homes that Israel’s courts have decided belonged to Jews prior to 1948, were not built then. Most of the homes in the area were actually built by the Jordanian authorities which occupied East Jerusalem between 1948 and 1967, Jordan has even provided the documentation to prove the residents had lived in the area.
As this expulsion order goes ahead, in the background are the violent crackdowns on Palestinian peaceful demonstrators in Jerusalem, along with restrictions on both Muslim and Christian holy sites. The failure of the International Community to step in and stop these crimes – yet again – has resulted in Palestinians taking issues into their own hands with armed attacks across the occupied West Bank.
This Sunday, Israeli occupation forces imposed a siege upon the Nablus Governorate in the north of the West Bank after an armed attack on settlers, collectively punishing hundreds of thousands of people – a recognizably illegal act that is committed regularly by the Israeli government. This came following a reported attack from a suspected lone Palestinian gunman, near a settlement checkpoint area, which resulted in the injury of three settlers (one now in critical condition after being shot in the head). Israeli Minister of War, Benny Gantz, stated that he had ordered reinforcements of the military to Nablus, whilst Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proclaimed that we will “strike our enemies forcefully”.
In Nablus, the Israeli occupation forces decided to storm the homes and businesses of Palestinians close to the area and shoot street demonstrators with live ammunition. Israeli settler gangs also announced that they were preparing for armed “retaliation” attacks on Palestinians as a response to what happened.
An explosion was also reported on the same day, on a settler road, near an illegal settlement close to Ramallah, after Israeli soldiers had shot and killed a 60-year-old Palestinian woman, Fahima al-Kharub, at the ‘Gush Etzion’ junction. The Israeli military said that the woman had attempted to attack soldiers with a knife and opened fire. The woman, according to her brother, was suffering from mental problems and had attempted to take her own life after losing her job during the coronavirus lockdowns. A video emerged of the woman at the time she was shot, she looked to have been carrying a knife, but was not threatening, swinging or even close enough to throw the knife to harm the heavily armed soldiers. In the video, after the occupation soldiers had fired next to her head as a warning, she kept walking towards them – not at any point posing a threat to their lives – you can then hear two shots and the woman’s body drops to the floor.
Over the past week, settlers have run over a Palestinian in their car, attacked Palestinians numerous times, as well as their homes, lands, and businesses, and worked to establish new illegal settlements and received no punishment.
It is clear that what is happening in the West Bank is an escalation, connected directly to events in Jerusalem as part of the ongoing uprising against the Israeli occupation. Israel’s acts of collective punishment are also working to now escalate tensions in the occupied territories and the International Community are remaining completely silent.