After visiting the Palestinian Sabbagh family, who is facing eviction from its home, in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied Jerusalem, for the benefit of Israeli settlers, United Nations and other officials have again warned that forced eviction and transfer of Palestinians are a breach of Fourth Geneva Convention.
Jamie McGoldrick, Humanitarian Coordinator United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory, Gwyn Lewis, Director of West Bank Operations for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), James Heenan, Head of Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the occupied Palestinian territory, and Kate Oâ€™Rourke, Country Director of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said in a statement that they visited the Sabbagh family â€śwho face imminent forced eviction from their home in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, part of the occupied Palestinian territory, and are at heightened risk of forcible transfer.â€ť
According to the statement, the Sabbagh family is a Palestinian refugee family originally from Jaffa city, who were settled in the neighborhood, along with 27 other families, with the support of the United Nations and the Jordanian government, in the 1950s.
Like other families in the area, for years they have been engaged in a legal dispute opposing efforts by Israeli settler organizations to evict them from their homes. Recently, this legal struggle was deemed unsuccessful as Israeli courts have ruled in favor of the settlersâ€™ claims. Thirty-two members of the Sabbagh family, including six children, now face forced eviction, while an additional 19 members will be directly affected by the loss of the family property, should the eviction take place.
â€śIn the occupied Palestinian territory, strict obligations apply with regard to the prohibition of forcible transfer and forced eviction,â€ť said the officials in the statement. â€śAlong with house demolitions, forced evictions are one of the major factors contributing to the creation of a coercive environment that may result in no other choice for individuals or communities but to leave. Forcible transfer is a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Forced evictions contrary to international law also violate the right to adequate housing and the right to privacy, and may be incompatible with other human rights.â€ť
They added, according to WAFA: â€śIn many cases in East Jerusalem, including in Sheikh Jarrah, the forced eviction of Palestinians is occurring within the context of Israeli settlement construction and expansion, illegal under international humanitarian law. An estimated 3,500 Israelis are currently living in settlements established with the support of the Israeli authorities in the heart of Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem. In Sheikh Jarrah alone, more than 200 Palestinians face potential eviction, should they be unsuccessful in similar cases currently before Israeli courts.â€ť
They called on the Israeli authorities â€śto immediately halt plans to evict the Sabbagh family to prevent further displacement of these refugees, cease settlement construction, and abide by their obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law and international human rights law.â€ť
(photo: PNN archive image)
Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip and continues, into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.