Magistrate Court Rules to Evict Four More Families from Batan al-Hawa, Silwan

31 December 2020
On December 23, the Jerusalem Magistrate Court handed down a ruling in favor of the Ateret Cohanim settler organization, upholding the eviction demands against four more Palestinian families, numbering 22 individuals, from Batan al-Hawa, Silwan. The court decision against the Ghaith family (three nuclear families) and the Jawad Abu Nab family follows recent rulings by the Jerusalem District Court against eight other Palestinian families, comprised of 45 people. According to the decision, the Ghaith and Abu Nab families must vacate their homes by March 1. The four families plan on submitting an appeal to the Jerusalem District Court.

Hubs of State-Backed Settler Operations
Batan al Hawa, Silwan, along with Sheikh Jarrah on the opposite side of the Old City Basin, is one of the current focal points of intensive state-sponsored settler activity where over 80 households face eviction lawsuits filed by Ateret Cohanim. Since 2015, 14 families have already been evicted and supplanted with settlers, while a total of some 700 individuals from Batan al-Hawa are at risk of mass displacement and dispossession.

The year 2020 has seen an unprecedented number of court decisions upholding eviction claims against Palestinian families in favor of settler organizations. Since the beginning of the year, the courts have authorized the eviction of over 30 Palestinian families, numbering over a hundred individuals, from their homes in both Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah, two of the most strategic locations in the Old City Basin. While most families are in various stages of appeal proceedings, their options for legal recourse are beginning to diminish, which could usher in an alarming wave of evictions next year.

A Political vs. Legal Matter
It is critical to underscore that the cases in question cannot be characterized as isolated and individual disputes over land ownership between supposed landowners and residents that should be left to play out in the Israeli courts. Rather, there is a systematic campaign, driven by political and ideological objectives, being waged against the Palestinian population, with the end goal of forcibly transferring entire Palestinian communities. These evictions are being advanced by well-funded settler groups who are aided and abetted on all levels of the state and enjoy the complicity of the Israeli courts, which carry far-reaching implications on the future of Jerusalem.

Immediate intervention is therefore needed to block these processes of forced displacement and dispossession with the same urgency, attention and resolve that is afforded to communities such as Khan al-Ahmar.

Number 6 with an orange rectangle marks the Ghaith family home and number 7 with an orange rectangle marks the Jawad Abu Nab family home
Through its management of the Benvenisti Trust - a Jewish trust which held title to properties in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Batan al-Hawa- Ateret Cohanim is initiating mass eviction proceedings against Palestinian families in the area based on exploitation of the Legal and Administrative Matters Law of 1970.  The law, also a primary legal displacement mechanism in Sheikh Jarrah, enables Jews to reclaim assets lost during the war of 1948 via the Israel General Custodian, while no parallel legal provision exists for Palestinians who lost property in West Jerusalem. See Ir Amim’s and Peace Now’s joint report, “Broken Trust” for further details and analysis.

Severe Implications
Beyond the flagrant infringement on basic human rights and the acute humanitarian impact on Palestinian families who are uprooted from their homes and communities, these measures are bolstered by a constellation of touristic settlement projects. Together they serve to further embed Israeli sovereignty in the Old City Basin and harm the prospects of a future political resolution on the city. See Ir Amim's 2019 map below illustrating the tightening ring of settlement activity around the Old City Basin.

Batan al-Hawa is #25 and Sheikh Jarrah is #5 & #6 on map