Friday, 26 February 2010

Evictions in Jerusalem

Recently I have had to travel to Jerusalem several times. Strangely I have not visited many of the churches or shrines, preferring to wander through the narrow lanes of the old city or the bustling streets of East Jerusalem, getting a feel of the place. The old city is fascinating, with every twist and turn revealing spice shops or jewellers – or, to my consternation, groups of soldiers with their loaded rifles. This is more evident in the Moslem quarter of the city and near the Damascus Gate.

I suppose they are a normal occurrence for most people, but to me it was a stark reminder of the tensions within the city and also that the old city is occupied territory. Saying that, I also noticed that some of the houses are now occupied by religious Jews, with the Israeli flags provocatively hanging outside. This seems to be a determined strategy, as many Palestinians are being evicted from their homes and the religious Jews move in. A major flashpoint is the area of East Jerusalem called Sheikh Jarrah, where several families have had to move out of their homes, to be replaced by extremists. One family have lived in their house since the early 1950s, after they had been expelled in 1948 from their original house. Now they seem to be being expelled again!

The one slightly positive thing is that many Jews have joined the protests against such actions.


  1. Margaret of the Sea of galilee1 March 2010 at 07:24

    Yes it is strategic. Often those living in the houses are not the legal owners. The house may be then sold by the legal (Arab) owner to a legal (Jewish) owner. Thereby people living there are effectively evicted. And then the house is lived in/occupied by other (ideologically motivated) Jews who have no financial involvemnt in the house or even connection to the legal owner who has effectively donated the money to buy the property. Ariel Sharon (ex-PM) owns (owned?) a house in East Jerusalem by the way.
    All very revolutionary, isn't it?

  2. Colin
    I should point out to you that 3,000 Jews lived in the old city before 1948 when they were 'ethnically cleansed' and 50, synagogues desdtpryed. The Jews were in a majority in Jerusalem since the mid 19 c. The Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah were occupying Jewish homes: the Jewish inhabitants were evicted in 1948 and went to court to recover their property 40 years ago. Only now are we seeing the results of this tortured legal process: only those Arabs who had failed to pay rent were evicted.

  3. Stephen from London (studied in Jerusalem)8 March 2010 at 13:02

    Shaikh Jarrah was a mixed area until 1948. The first residences were in a part called Shimon Hatzadik, near the tomb of a very revered Jewish High priest of that name. The Arabs who were expelled had owned leases in a Jewish owned block of flats. They were expelled for not paying the ground rent over many years. The decision was made by Israel's Supreme Court (one of whose small number of supreme justices is Arab, and which has brought many decisions against settlers and against the Israel government). Those who owned leases but had paid the ground rent were not expelled.

    The ethnic cleansing here happened in 1948 when all the Jewish residents of that part of Jerusalem that was captured by the British officered Jordanian Arab Legion, with support from volunteer former members of the SS were expelled. Those area included Shaikh Jarrah and the Jewish Quarter of the old city of Jerusalem, where many old synagogues were destroyed.

  4. UNSC res 476 makes an interesting read.. I doubt Anonymous and Stephen have never ventured to do so.

    Israeli civil law has no jurisdiction in "territories occupied"

    BTW 'real estate' is not 'territory'.

  5. UNSC res 476 one of SIX reminders for UNSC res 252 is an interesting read. I doubt Anonymous and Stephen have bothered.

    Israeli civil law has no jurisdiction in "territories occupied", including Jerusalem.

    BTW 'real estate' is not 'territory'. All Israeli civilians in "territories occupied" are there illegally, whether they own real estate or not.