Israel OKs expulsion of Palestinian family from Jerusalem

Israel OKs expulsion of Palestinian family from Jerusalem
3 min read
West Bank
10 January, 2022
The family includes 15 people, including eight minors, one disabled and two elderly residents.
Some 58 Palestinian families in Silwan are threatened of eviction based on 'absentee property law' [Getty]

The Israeli government's judicial advisor on Sunday gave the green light for the expulsion of an extended Palestinian family in the neighborhood of Silwan, Jerusalem.

The expulsion would include 15 members of the Sumrein family, including eight minors, one disabled and two elderly residents.

The building, which was constructed by the family's grandfather in the 1940s, is the latest Palestinian home in Jerusalem to be targeted with eviction notices.

Activists say this is part of efforts by Israel to "ethnically cleanse" parts of the holy city of its original Palestinian population.

The judicial advisor to the Israeli government gave his verdict yesterday to the Israeli appeal court, stating that "there is no objection to the expulsion".

The case has been open since 1990, with the Jewish National Fund claiming the ownership of the house based on the Israeli "absentee" properties law.

The law "does not apply on the Sumreins, because they are not absent, since they live in the house", pointed out Fakhri Abu Diab, a researcher of Jerusalem affairs and member of the Silwan Defense Committee.

"This is the reason why the court asked the government to give its judicial advice," he told The New Arab.

"The Jewish National Fund is acting on behalf of the Elaad settler organisation, who runs most of the settlement activity in Silwan."

He said the organisation runs the biblical park project in Silwan and operates an "information centre" right next to the Sumrein family home.

The Israeli Peace Now movement has documented that the Sumrein family’s house was declared an "absentee property" in 1987 by the Israeli "Custodian of Absentee Properties", without consulting the family.

This is despite the lawful owner of the house, Haj Musa Sumrein, lived in the house until his death in 1983.

Peace Now has claimed that the Jewish National Fund has signed an agreement with Elaad that would see the settler organisation receive the house in return for legal assistance.

Mahmoud Sumrein, a member of the Sumrein family, told The New Arab: "We have nowhere else to go... this has been our house all our lives.

"My mother lives here with my aunt. Three of my brothers are married and live in the house with their families, one of them married recently. They would all end up homeless."

Sumrein explained that since the case began, settlers, under the protection of the police, have repeatedly harassed the family.

"They have offered us money to leave the house as well, but will never leave," he said.

The neighbourhood of Silwan is located immediately to the south of Al-Aqsa compound and Jerusalem's old city. Israel has planned a biblical park project in the area, run by settler organisations.

Currently, 58 Palestinian families in Silwan have cases opened against their properties under the ‘absentees properties’ law, while 84 more face demolition orders for building without permits.