Palestinian Land Day, which falls annually on 30th March, commemorates the six Palestinians killed and hundreds injured in 1976 as they protested the seizure of thousands of acres of their land.
Israel’s illegal policies of forcible evictions and home demolitions continue to target and displace hundreds of Palestinian families in occupied East Jerusalem. Extremist Israeli settler groups, backed by the Israeli Government and the Israeli Jerusalem Municipality, continue to overtake Palestinian homes and claim the ownership of more Palestinian properties under the pretext of pre-1948 “Jewish ownership.”
Among the many Palestinian neighbourhoods in the city facing this threat is Sheikh Jarrah.
From Qatamon in 1948 to Sheikh Jarrah in 2021, Israel’s goal has been to forcibly displace the people of Palestine, take over their properties, and make it impossible for them to exercise their inalienable rights including the right to self-determination. Israel’s illegal policies in Sheikh Jarrah aim at fragmenting the neighbourhood and creating geographical discontinuation between other Palestinian neighbourhoods in Jerusalem (such as Shuafat and Beit Hanina) and the Old City; Today, over 70 Palestinian families living in the Karm Al-Ja’ouni area of Sheikh Jarrah are undergoing a legal battle in Israeli courts to confront the threat of forcible transfer that allows settlers to take over their homes. Property seizures and displacement of Palestinians has been ongoing since the Nakba in 1948, in violation of international laws; Palestinians continue to live under a colonial occupation that sets two different systems, especially regarding property ownership, within the same city: one for Israeli Jews and another one for Palestinians; Referring to alleged pre-1948 property deeds is just one of Israel’s tools to steal Palestinian land and property. The “Absentee Property Law” continues to play a prominent role in this respect.
Sheikh Jarrah, the Old City (the Islamic Waqf and Church properties), Silwan, among others, are all part of occupied Palestine, where Israel’s illegal annexation has been considered null and void by the international community.
Israel has an obligation, as occupying power, to act in accordance with the IV Geneva Convention, including by stopping the home demolitions and the forced evictions of Palestinians.
Failure to protect the Palestinian people under Israel’s colonial-settlement occupation, including by taking concrete actions to hold Israel accountable, will continue encouraging the commitment of such well-documented crimes and violations, perpetuating the violation of Palestinian national and human rights, and threatening the prospects of a just and lasting peace.