Arab family evicted from Jerusalem home

JERUSALEM (AP) – Israeli police evicted a Palestinian family from their home in east Jerusalem on Tuesday to make way for new Jewish tenants who claimed ownership.

Municipality officials backed by police enforced a court order to remove the six-member Shamasneh family from a home claimed by heirs of a Jewish family forced to abandon it in 1948, when it came under Jordanian control following an Arab-Israeli war.

Israel took control of the area after the 1967 war and continued existing rental arrangements with Arab tenants. But a law allowing Jews to reclaim former homes or repurchase them has set up such conflicts.

Police were seen escorting the Shamasnehs out of the home, with the elderly Ayoub Shamasneh carried out by his relatives.

Shamasneh, 79, said his legal case was still pending. “How can they do this to us?” he said.

Israeli police officers evacuate a Palestinian member of the Shamasneh family in east Jerusalem on September 5. – AP

His wife Fahima, 75, called it “pure injustice” that after more than 50 years in the house they “throw us out in the street”.

Palestinians claim the evictions aim to increase east Jerusalem’s Jewish population and change the area’s demography, making it harder to divide the city in any eventual peace deal. Israel says it is merely enforcing the law.

Shortly after the eviction, Jewish settlers entered the house accompanied by a private security guard. An Israeli flag hung in the entranceway to the kitchen.

Yonatan Yosef, a spokesman for the Jewish residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in east Jerusalem, said he was pleased to see another home “redeemed”.