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Peace Not Walls

Palestinian family of 12 faces eviction from Silwan home of 30 years

The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), the Israeli Committee against Home Demolitions (ICAHD) and many other groups are working to keep the Palestinian Sumarin family of 12, including 5 children, in their home of 30 years. They have received notice that they will be forcibly evicted on or after November 28 if they do not vacate the property.

The home is in the controversial neighborhood of Silwan, right next to where the settler group Elad – which is also involved in this affair – is expanding the archeological site of the City of David. Elad built the visitor’s center of the “City of David” tourism site next to the Sumarin family’s house. Therefore, the house is a strategic site for settlers, as it would give them a large contiguous area at the entrance of Silwan.

The Custodian of Absentee Property took control of the property, following the passing of the house owner Musa Sumarin in 1983. At the time, his sons resided in Jordan and Saudi Arabia, and according to the Abandoned Property Law (established to expropriate property from Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons, following the 1948 war and 1967 occupation of the West Bank), the house was confiscated by the Custodian that ultimately transferred possession to Himnuta, a subsidiary company of the Jewish National Fund (JNF). A 2006 Jerusalem Magistrate Court decision, in the absence of the family, granted the JNF appeal to forcefully evict the family, and levy a 2 million ILS (roughly 500,000 USD) fine. Some two months ago the family was served with an order by the State Bailiff’s Office to vacate their home by November 28th, 2011, or face forcible eviction.

Ahmed Sumarin doesn’t know what to do.

“I don’t know what to do if they come with force. This is our home. My grandfather still lives here. Where will we go? If they take your home away, you can only go onto the street.” 

As the occupier, Israel is responsible for providing for the care and shelter of the occupied population, and is forbidden by international law from moving its own population into occupied territory. Israel claims this is not occupied terrritory because they annexed this part of East Jerusalem in 1967, a move that hasn’t been recognized by an other country.

For more information about home demolitions, see No Place Like Home from ICAHD.  For more information about the most recent practices in East Jerusalem, see this presentation by ICAHD  or this summary about a new publication “No Home, No Homeland: A New Normative Framework for Examining the Practice of Administrative Home Demolitions in East Jerusalem.”