In East Jerusalem, Sheikh Jarrah has become the symbol of resistance to the Israeli occupation. For more than ten years now, the inhabitants of this district, between the old town and Mount Scopus, have lived in fear of losing their homes. Already in 2009, several families had been evicted, driven out by settlers whose first gesture was to erect a huge Star of David on the roof and hang Israeli flags. “It was like a military operation,” says Adel Budeiri, who has lived there for decades and also knows he is in the crosshairs of the Israeli authorities. The children were screaming, crying. They even cut the phone lines. In front of each entrance to the house, there were about ten soldiers. For these families that were being hunted, it was again the Nakba (the disaster – Editor’s note). “
A fight that has become emblematic
Since the start of the year, four new families have been threatened. The whole community of Sheikh Jarrah was then organized. From the youngest to the oldest, women and men, they decided to fight against the Israeli steamroller with its regular army, its police and its settlers ready for anything, revolver in the belt or M-16 slung like in a western. of series B. A struggle that has become emblematic. Every week, despite the crackdown, demonstrations of support take place, bringing together Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank, progressive Israeli Jews, and Communist Party activists and MPs. Last May, the affair sparked an eleven-day war between Israel and armed groups in the Gaza Strip. The file has become international. The diplomatic representatives of the countries of the European Union even went there, which is rare. The hashtag SaveSheikhJarrah has taken over social media.
The Palestinian families, contesting the deportation order sent to them, brought the case to justice. Jewish settlers use an Israeli law that allows them to claim property that would have belonged to Jews before the 1948 war and the creation of Israel. They thus claim to hold title deeds dating from the 19th century. But Turkey, depositary of the administrative archives of the Ottoman Empire, says it has no trace of these documents.
Ultimatum, expulsion or submission
In addition, the 27 families concerned had built their houses in 1956 (before the Israeli occupation of the city in 1967) under an agreement with the Jordanian government and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Refugees. of Palestine (UNRWA). In April, Amman did provide the Palestinian Authority with a series of documents proving that the Jordanian government had begun, at the time, to transfer title deeds from Sheikh Jarrah to Palestinian families residing there. But the 1967 war and subsequent Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem interrupted the transfer of ownership.
“The occupation courts shirk their responsibility to make the final decision and force us to choose between evicting our homes or submitting to an unjust deal”
Last week the court proposed that all eviction orders against Palestinian residents be quashed for the next fifteen years on condition that residents pay monthly rent to the Israeli association Nahalat Shimon, representing the settlers! An ultimatum had been given for November 6. The response from Palestinian families has been crystal clear. They refused the “offer” of the court “which would have made us tenants protected with the association of settlers and gradually pave the way for the confiscation of our rights to our lands.” This refusal stems from our belief in the justice of our cause and our right to our homes and our homeland ”, as Muna Al Kurd, a young Palestinian who became the pasionaria of Sheikh Jarrah, dressed in a jacket adorned with the words “No Fear”.
“An attempt to distract from the biggest crime: ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the occupation and its settlers”
In a statement read in the presence of the residents and to Sheikh Jarrah himself, she noted that “the occupation courts shirk their responsibility to make the final decision and force us to choose between evicting our homes or submitting to an unjust deal, which is nothing more than an extension of colonial policies aimed at fragmenting the social solidarity achieved by the Palestinian people during the last act of resistance, and an attempt to distract attention from the greatest crime : ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the occupation and its settlers ”. And Muna Al Kurd concluded in these terms: “We do not accept that the image of a just occupation is promoted at our expense, and we will not accept half measures. “
Evict as many Palestinians as possible from East Jerusalem
The Israeli authorities wanted to make this case a simple real estate dispute, in order to hide the political nature of the decisions taken. These aim to oust as many Palestinians as possible from East Jerusalem so that their number does not exceed 20% of the total, which would deprive them of any legitimacy to claim the eastern part of the city as the capital of their state. Besides Cheikh Jarrah, the district of Silwan is attacked by the settlers. At the same time, the Palestinians, who are denied any building permits, see their homes destroyed by the occupying bulldozers. “The international community (should) assume its responsibilities and prevent the Israeli authorities from evicting us from our neighborhood, which we have lived in and defended for generations,” proclaim the residents of Sheikh Jarrah. A call that applies to the entire non-Jewish population of East Jerusalem.