Israeli police on Sunday evicted a Palestinian family from their home in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City after the Israeli supreme court ruled Jewish settlers were the rightful owners.
An AFP photographer said residents of the neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem scuffled with police, who stood guard as about a dozen Israeli settlers took possession of the large building.
Rania Abu Assab, who lived in the house with her husband, their children and his aunt, stood weeping outside as the settlers raised the Israeli flag on the roof.
“We live there, it’s my house, it’s my whole life,” she said. “They took everything.”
She said the family was compelled to leave behind all their furniture and belongings. Her husband Hatem and son Mehdi were arrested by Israeli forces after they were physically assaulted, witnesses said.
“They disturbed police activities,” an Israeli police spokesperson told AFP but could not say if they were subsequently released.
Ir Amim, an Israeli watchdog group which monitors settlement activity in Jerusalem, reported on February 3 that the Abu Assab family had been served an eviction notice ordering them to vacate the property by February 28.
It said family members had lived there since the 1960s but Palestinian sources said the Abu Assab family had lived in the home for three generations since 1952.
Israeli NGO Peace Now said the home originally belonged to a Jewish family that fled during the 1948 war which accompanied Israel’s foundation.
East Jerusalem was occupied during that conflict by Jordan until the 1967 Six Day War, when it was seized by Israel and subsequently annexed, moves never recognised by the international community.
The Abu Assab family had lived in another neighbourhood until 1948 before eventually moving to the home in question.
Peace Now said in a statement on Sunday that under an Israeli law passed in 1950, Palestinians cannot return to homes they fled in 1948.
A 1970 act, however, decreed that property in occupied East Jerusalem abandoned by Jewish owners could be reclaimed.
“The court granted the settlers the house and the Abu Assab family became refugees for the second time,” Peace Now said.
There is an estimated population of around 200,000 Jewish settlers living in occupied East Jerusalem, alongside about 250,000 original Palestinian residents.