Pending Eviction Of Two Palestinian Families From Batan Al-Hawa, Silwan

31 January 2021
The District Court verdict from November 2020, which authorized the eviction of the Shweiki family (two nuclear families) from their homes in Batan al-Hawa, Silwan, set tomorrow, February 1, 2021 as the date from which the eviction could take place.

The family appealed to the Supreme Court and submitted a request to delay the eviction until the appeal is heard. The Court gave the Ateret Cohanim settler organization until today (January 31) to respond to the family's request to postpone the eviction procedure. Ateret Cohanim submitted its response, presumably objecting to the family's request. Today, the Supreme Court subsequently issued a temporary injunction, freezing the eviction until February 7 and instructing the family to respond to Ateret Cohanim's arguments by that date.

If on February 8 or thereafter, the court decides to lift the injunction, Ateret Cohanim will likely proceed to request that the Israeli Execution Office immediately deliver eviction notices to the Shweiki family.

The Shweiki family is just one of some 84 families currently facing eviction lawsuits filed by Ateret Cohanim on behalf of the Benvenisti Trust (see background below). Since 2015, 14 families have already been evicted via Ateret Cohanim's management of the trust and supplanted with settlers, while a total of some 700 individuals from Batan al-Hawa are at risk of mass displacement and dispossession.

Unprecedented Number of Court Decisions in 2020
The year 2020 saw an unprecedented number of court decisions upholding eviction claims against Palestinian families in favor of settler organizations.  In just Batan al-Hawa alone, the courts authorized the eviction of 19 Palestinian families, numbering dozens of individuals. While most families are in various stages of appeal proceedings, their options for legal remedies are beginning to diminish, which could usher in an alarming wave of evictions this 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 ostensible 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.

Number 2 in orange marks the Shweiki 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 on the map