HomeTop StoriesIsrael orders the eviction of Palestinian families from properties in East Jerusalem,...

Israel orders the eviction of Palestinian families from properties in East Jerusalem, reigniting a legal battle

JERUSALEM (AP) — An Israeli court on Monday ordered the expulsion of a Palestinian family from a disputed east Jerusalem neighborhood, the latest in a legal saga that has come to symbolize the conflicting claims to the holy city.

The Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood has been the center of a long-running battle between government-backed Israeli settlers and longtime Palestinian residents. It is part of a broader trend of settlers encroaching on Palestinian neighborhoods in disputed East Jerusalem, and previous attempted evictions in Sheikh Jarrah have led to violent clashes and helped spark an 11-day war between Israel and Hamas in 2021.

Under Monday’s ruling, the Diab family was given until July to leave their house in Sheikh Jarrah. The family says they will appeal.

The Israeli court described the case as a simple real estate dispute, ruling that the extended Diab family was squatting on a property owned by Jews and had no legal rights to it. Palestinians say they have lived in the houses for decades.

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The case against the family was launched by Nahalat Shimon Ltd, a Jewish settler organization that has for years been involved in legal efforts to expel Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah.

Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war, annexing the area in a manner not internationally recognized. Israel considers the entire city its capital, while Palestinians seek East Jerusalem, home to the city’s most sensitive holy sites, as the capital of their future independent state.

Nahalat Shimon is seeking to seize the property under an Israeli law that allows Jews to reclaim property that was Jewish before Israel was founded in 1948. Jordan controlled the area between 1948 and the 1967 war.

There is no equivalent justice in Israel for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled or were driven from their homes during the war surrounding the Israeli establishment.

Saleh Diab, one of the men in the family, said his family of 20 has lived in Sheikh Jarrah’s estate since 1955. He told The Associated Press he was shocked by the decision and believed his family was protected under a 2022 Supreme Court decision that halted planned evictions of four other Palestinian families in the same area.

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Monday’s decision comes at a time of heightened tensions in Jerusalem over Israel’s ongoing war against Hamas in Gaza.

A high-profile deportation case in Sheikh Jarrah helped spark the 11-day war in May 2021. Israel’s Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, as an opposition lawmaker at the time, played a key role in rallying demonstrations in support of the settlers. .

In his current position, Ben-Gvir oversees the national police.

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Associated Press writer Natalie Melzer in Tel Aviv, Israel, contributed to this report.

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