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Sheikh Jarrah is a historic Jerusalem neighbourhood

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The bustling Sheikh Jarrah, one of the historic Jerusalem neighbourhoods built outside its Ottoman city walls, faces a new-old wave of Judaisation and forced displacement by Jewish and settler groups which forge history in order to steal geography. The decision to evict several Palestinian families from their homes on Othman Bin Affan Street in Sheikh Jarrah is a threat that began many years ago.

Nakba Day 1948 – Cartoon [Carlos Latuff/MiddleEastMonitor]

Nakba Day 1948 – Cartoon [Carlos Latuff/MiddleEastMonitor]

Since the beginning of May, four Palestinian families totalling 30 people have been facing this threat after an Israeli court rejected their petitions in mid-February against the decisions to expel them from the area and hand their homes to illegal settlers. The court later called on both parties to "settle" the dispute.

Three other families are expected to suffer the same fate in early August after a court rejected their appeal. These eviction orders and the subsequent taking over of properties stolen from the Palestinians by Jewish settlers are part of the plan outlined by the occupation authorities to change the demography and strengthen the Jewish majority in the occupied city.

The Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood is inhabited by Palestinian refugees who were expelled from their villages by Zionist militias during the 1948 Nakba. In 1956, Jordan reached an agreement with the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which stipulated the resettlement of 28 Palestinian refugee families in Jerusalem and providing them with houses built by the Jordanian government. The deal was conditional upon the ownership transferring automatically to them if they agreed to give up their refugee status. Thus, in 1959 the residents became the legal owners of their homes. The original 28 families have since grown to about 72, with around 550 people altogether, the majority of whom are children.

Israel occupied the area during the June 1967 Six-Day War; the occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are still in place. The residents of Sheikh Jarrah were surprised to be told in 1972 that Jewish settler organisations had "acquired" ownership of land in the Karam Al-Jaouni area of the neighbourhood, and demanded the eviction of four Palestinian families living there.

Under Israel's 1950 Absentees' Property Law, the occupation authorities can confiscate the property of "absentee" Palestinian refugees, who have always been prevented from returning to their land. Another law issued in 1970 — the Legal and Administrative Affairs Law — allows Jewish settlers to seize Palestinian properties in East Jerusalem if they can prove that their families lived in the city before the 1948 war, which was not difficult for them to do.

OPINION: The Nakba of Sheikh Jarrah: How Israel uses 'the law' to ethnically cleanse East Jerusalem

The first physical seizure of Palestinian homes was seen in 2001 in Karam Al-Jaouni, when extreme right-wing Jewish activists........

© Middle East Monitor

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