Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Illegal Israeli Settlers Threaten
Jerusalemite Sheikh Jarrah Neighborhood
By Stephen Lendman
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, November 8, 2010
Israeli settlements are illegal under international law,
including Fourth Geneva's Article 49 stating:
"Individual or mass
forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from
occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any
other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of the motive."
In addition, various UN resolutions (including 446, 452 and 465)
condemned Israel's settlement building, declaring they have "no legal
validity" to exist. However, they do and regularly expand, endangering all
Palestinian communities, Sheikh Jarrah one of many and their longstanding
A predominantly East Jerusalem Arab neighborhood, it's
home to about 2,800 Palestinians as well as diplomatic missions and
well-known landmarks. However, because of its strategic location, settlers
want it, and have encroached for years. So far, over 60 Palestinian families
have been dispossessed. Another 500 are at risk.
The UN Office for
the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) published an October report
titled, "The Case of Sheikh Jarrah," explaining the growing threat, saying
it's "of serious humanitarian concern." Settlers have used different methods
to encroach, including:
(1) taking over land or property confiscated
or expropriated by Israeli authorities, one way, among others, under the
1950 Absentee Property Law (ABL) defining absentees as:
who, at any time during the period between (November 29, 1947) and (May 19,
1948) has ceased to exist (and no longer) was a legal owner of any property
situated in the area of Israel...."
In other words, Palestinians
fleeing for their lives became "absentees" with no legal right to land and
property Israel wanted to steal.
(2) giving settlers land designated
"public" or "state" for environmental, historic or religious reasons.
(3) using Israeli law (denied Palestinians) to pursue alleged Jewish
ownership of land or property prior to 1948.
(4) buying land through
intermediaries as well as through a process involving threats, deception,
false depositions, or forged documentation, complicit courts cheating
An earlier article on theft of Palestinian land
and property can be accessed through the following link:
What began incrementally has now intensified through forced evictions,
at times involving home demolitions and state-sponsored violence. Sheikh
Jarrah areas below have been especially affected.
(1) Karm Al
Ja'ouni/Tomb Quarter where over 60 Palestinian families have been forced
from their homes since late 2008. Evictions followed lost legal disputes
over ownership, Jews invariably prevailing over Palestinians. Afterwards,
settlers moved in, and according to plans submitted to the Jerusalem
Municipality, they'll demolish the entire area for a new settlement, meaning
all Arabs will be illegally dispossessed.
Over 300 are at risk,
mostly refugees in UNWRA-sponsored housing since 1956 after fleeing from
their homes in 1948. So far, eight extended families got eviction notices.
More are coming. As a result, the affected neighborhood has sharply
deteriorated, partly from frequent police-backed settler - resident clashes.
Since August 2009, Israeli and international activists have participated in
demonstrations, supporting Palestinian rights. Many have been injured,
harassed, arrested and/or detained.
(2) In Kubaniyat Im Haroun, a
protracted legal battle ended in September 2010 after Israel's High Court
ruled for settlers, bogusly claiming pre-1948 ownership of Palestinian land.
The decision means more forced evictions are coming because Jews nearly
(3) Originally owned by the Husseini family, Israeli
authorities expropriated the Shepherd Hotel and adjacent land in 1967,
selling it in 1985 to Jews. They now plan a new 90 housing unit settlement.
At least 20 so far have been approved, the others a fait accompli.
(4) Named after its former owner, the Mufti of Jerusalem, the Karm el Mufti
olive grove was expropriated by Israeli authorities, later transferring it
to the Ateret Cohanim settler association. Although zoned a green area,
restricting construction, settlers began a process to build 250 housing
units most likely to be approved.
(5) In 2009, the Jerusalem
Municipality granted the fundamentalist Gush Emunim (Bloc of the Faithful)
movement a permit to build a three story office/conference center for their
planned Amana headquarters. Construction will be on expropriated Palestinian
land, adjacent to Sheikh Jarrah's St. Joseph Hospital, despite objections
from area residents.
(6) Additional stolen land next to the Al-Hayat
Medical Center will be used for a Jewish religious/educational center,
funded by Canadian Jews.
The fate of Sheikh Jarrah's Hanoun and Al
Ghawi families are typical. In August 2009, Israeli police forcibly evicted
them. Fifty-three Palestinians, including 20 children were dispossessed,
their homes seized, their property loaded on trucks, then dumped on a street
near UNWRA's headquarters. Besides losing everything, they now face high
legal bills, fines and other charges, including for their own evictions, a
shocking contempt for law and justice. Many others have been similarly
In 2009, at least 380 Palestinians, including over 90
children, were forcibly displaced in East Jerusalem. Another 190, including
over 85 children, were also affected. Moreover, other residents face at
least 1,500 demolition orders, their lives to be harmed like the Hanoun and
Al Ghawi families. As a result, Palestinian neighborhoods are being
incrementally destroyed, their residents discarded like yesterday's garbage.
The humanitarian concerns are overwhelming, dispossession having
immediate and longer-term physical, social, economic, and emotional
consequences on families, neighborhoods and communities. Moreover, depriving
people of their main asset and displacing them disrupts their livelihoods,
reduces their standard of living, increases their risk for poverty, and
limits their access to basic services like water, education and health care.
Forced evictions combined with expanded settlements also restrict free
movement, and increase settler intimidation and harassment, at times causing
injuries or deaths. After similar developments in Hebron's H2 area, over
1,000 Palestinians lost homes and over 1,800 commercial businesses had to
Under recognized international law, these are grievous
violations. Yet Israel lets Jews claim land and property illegally, by
alleging they owned it before 1948. Palestinians, however, have no
equivalent right to land and property in Israel, legally theirs before being
forcibly expelled during Israel's War of Independence.
enforcement authority, OCHA urges an immediate end to evictions, home
demolitions, and dispossessions, as well as returning families to land and
property they own, citing international humanitarian law.
of course, ignores international law, its own as well when it comes to
Arabs, remaining defiant because no one intervenes. As a result,
Palestinians remain victimized, yet struggle heroically for their rights and
dignity, refusing ever to stop until justice they rightfully deserve is
A Final Comment
On October 21, the Gisha Legal
Center for Freedom of Movement obtained documents on Gaza's closure and
isolation policy, 18 months after their existence was denied. In early 2009,
Gisha filed a Freedom of Information Act petition "demand(ing) transparency
regarding the Gaza closure policy." Israel still withholds information
on its amended guidelines, established after the Flotilla massacre.
It's now known, however, that Israel imposed "a policy of deliberate
reduction" of essential goods to Gaza, including food, medical supplies,
fuel for electricity, and much more. In addition, guidelines dictated a
"lower warning line" to notify about expected shortages in advance. At the
same time, however, it was ignored.
Moreover, an "upper red line"
was set above which humanitarian goods could be blocked as part of state
policy to suffocate 1.5 Gazans. In early 2006, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
advisor Dov Weisglass explained saying, "The idea is to put (Gazans) on a
diet, but not to make them die of hunger." In other words, make them suffer
enough to reject Hamas or force its officials to accede to Israeli demands,
giving up hope for equity and justice.
After the May Flotilla
massacre, Israel eased closure modestly, but hardly enough to matter.
According to Gisha Director Sari Bashi:
"Instead of considering
(legitimate) security needs, on the one hand, and the rights and needs of
civilians living in Gaza, on the other, Israel banned glucose for biscuits
and the fuel needed for regular supply of electricity - paralyzing normal
life in Gaza and impairing the moral character of the State of Israel. I am
sorry to say that major elements of this policy are still place."
Israel is a lawless rogue state, its Gaza closure policy Exhibit A.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
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