|This week, one of the households of the Salhia family in Sheikh Jarrah received an eviction order from the Enforcement and Collection Agency, which can be carried out at any time between January 10-25, 2022. The household, consisting of seven individuals, including five children, is therefore at imminent risk of forced displacement.
The Jerusalem Municipality is demanding the eviction of the entire Salhia family, comprised of two households and totaling 12 individuals, under the pretext that expropriation of the property is necessary for the construction of a school. Following the court's dismissal of one petition, one of the households received the aforementioned eviction order. The second household's petition will be heard tomorrow (January 6) at the Jerusalem District Court.
While the municipality is evicting the family to build an educational institution, in recent years it relinquished a plot of land in Sheikh Jarrah originally designated for a school and transferred it into the hands of an ultra-Orthodox association for the construction of a massive yeshiva. The municipality appears to perceive it as reasonable to dispossess a Palestinian family for the sake of a school rather than utilizing open land initially allocated for such purposes.
When the District Planning Committee discussed the objections to the Ohr Somayach yeshiva plan (TPS 68858) at the end of 2020, the representative of the Jerusalem Municipality's planning department claimed that there was no shortage of educational institutions nor a lack of space for such buildings in Sheikh Jarrah.
Today, Ir Amim sent an urgent letter to the Director of the Municipality's Education Administration (MEA) in which it detailed the contradiction in the municipality's actions and demanded MEA act to retrieve the parcel of land it transferred to the ultra-Orthodox association. Such a measure could in fact obviate the "need" to seize the Salhia family's land and prevent the violation of their property rights and forced eviction.
Members of the Salhia family are Palestinian refugees who were uprooted from their homes in Ein Kerem in 1948 and now stand to be displaced for a second time. According to the family, their parents purchased the plot of land and have lived in homes they built since before 1967. The property also houses a well-known and thriving garden center called Peace Nursery.
Situated directly across from the British Consulate, the homes are strategically located between Kerem Al'ajoni and the Shepherd Hotel complex where settler groups are acting to establish major settler enclaves (see map below). In Kerem Al'ajoni, Nahalat Shimon is working at the behest of settlers to evict some 30 Palestinian families, while the Ateret Cohanim settler organization has constructed 22 housing units in the Shepherd Hotel complex to house a new settlement. The organization received the compound from the state decades ago after it was declared "absentee property." There are reports that Ateret Cohanim intends to build additional floors, and therefore the units are not yet occupied.
It should be underscored that this development is taking place in parallel to the impending eviction of the 11-member Salem family from Um Haroun, Sheikh Jarrah (western section) for the benefit of settlers. As reported previously, the family was handed an eviction notice in early December citing that they would be subject to forcible removal as of December 29. That eviction order was cancelled, and an administrative hearing was held on December 30 at the Enforcement and Collection Agency concerning a request for a new eviction order with a flexible implementation date. Although the hearing concluded without a decision nor the issuance of a new eviction order, the family's legal representation has made it clear that all potential legal channels have been exhausted. Therefore save for government intervention, there appears to be no other means to prevent the family's displacement. Continued public pressure and concerted engagement with the Israeli government on this matter is hence vital.
A total of some 70 families, numbering over 300 Palestinians, are under threat of eviction from Sheikh Jarrah due to lawsuits filed by settler groups working in close collaboration with state bodies, including the General Custodian. Driven by political and ideological motives, these efforts aim to establish settler enclaves by forcibly uprooting Palestinians and supplanting them with Jewish settlers as a means to Israelize the area and further entrench Israeli control. Such measures carry severe humanitarian and geopolitical ramifications.