Court Okays Eviction of Palestinian Family Because Land Was Once Owned by Jews

A Jewish settler organization won a lawsuit Sunday against a Palestinian family it has been trying to evict in East Jerusalem on grounds that the structure was built on land previously owned by Jews. The ruling could set a precedent for the eviction of additional 700 Palestinians living in the Baten al-Hawa enclave of Silwan. 

The Baten al-Hawa enclave had once been owned by a Jewish property trust (hekdesh), housing Yemenite Jews who arrived in Jerusalem in the late 19th century. In 1938, British authorities ordered the residents out of the neighborhood because of the danger posed by the Arab revolt against the British mandate. Their homes were razed and years later, Palestinian families built Baten al-Hawa on the land.

– Haaretz Weekly Ep. 57

Hijacking the Holocaust for Putin, politics and powerHaaretz Weekly Ep. 57

In 2001 the Jerusalem District Court accepted a request by Ateret Cohanim settler organization to be named trustees of the land on grounds that it was Jewish property. Israeli law enables Jewish heirs to reclaim property they left in East Jerusalem, but does not enable Palestinian owners to reclaim their property in West Jerusalem.

In 2002, the state transferred the land to the Jewish custodians, without informing Palestinian residents. Ateret Cohanim became the legal owners of the plot inhabited by several hundred Palestinians, and soon after commenced a legal battle to evict residents.

On Sunday a Jerusalem judge accepted the arguments of the Jewish trustees and ordered the eviction of the Rajbi family, which has been living there since at least 1975.

Nasser Rajbi, the head of the family, lives in the building with his children and grandchildren, a total of 22 people. One of his daughters is seriously disabled, while his 25-year-old son suffered a heart attack two-and-a-half months ago and has since been in a coma.

“I’m in the hospital every day and don’t even think about this at all,” Rajbu said Sunday after the ruling. “My father bought this house and I was born in this house. We didn’t take it from anyone. We’d never even heard about the Yemenites until they sued us. I’m not leaving the house, where would I go? We will die before they get us out.”