Today, 18 February, representatives of the Humanitarian Country Team in Palestine, comprising United Nations Agencies and international and Palestinian NGOs, met with the Salem family in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah. The family of 12, including six children and the elderly mother, Fatima Salem - all of whom are Palestine refugees - faces eviction during March from their family home of 70 years.
The announcement of the scheduled eviction has recently raised tension in the Jerusalem neighbourhood, with clashes involving Palestinian residents, Israeli settlers, and Israeli Security Forces resulting in property damage, multiple injuries and arrests, including the arrest of eight children since Friday 11 February. The Salem family itself and their neighbours have been subject to attacks with pepper spray and stones resulting in injury and property damage.
The Salem family is one of 218 Palestinian families, comprising 970 individuals, including 424 children, living in East Jerusalem, mainly in the neighbourhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan, that are currently facing the threat of forced eviction by the Israeli authorities.
The United Nations has repeatedly called for a halt to forced evictions and demolitions in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem: under international humanitarian law, forcible transfers of protected persons by the occupying power are forbidden regardless of their motive.
Active steps must be taken to de-escalate the situation before another crisis erupts; we urge all political and community leaders to refrain from provocative action and rhetoric. Israeli authorities must take steps to ensure the protection of civilians, including Palestine refugees.
Israeli campaign group Peace Now said in a statement recently: "This is a terrible injustice based on the cynical exploitation of a discriminatory law that allows Jews to exercise the 'right of return' to property lost to them in 1948, at the expense of Palestinian families legally living in the property, while another Israeli law denies the same right to Palestinians. This is exactly what the Mishnah says: "He who says: mine is mine and yours is mine, is called evil". The State of Israel, which took the Palestinian refugees' properties lost to them in 1948, cannot today allow settlers to take from Palestinians Jewish properties lost in 1948 and on which they are have already received compensation. The government can stop this evacuation, and it must do so."
Many Jewish and Christian faith leaders, and other human rights organisations have appealed for the evictions to be stopped. See earlier reports on ICN HERE
See also: Holy Land: Amnesty issues major report on 'apartheid' Israel www.indcatholicnews.com/news/43984