Israel Supreme Court mulls hearing appeal over Palestinian evictions

The court had given families threatened with eviction until Thursday to resolve their dispute with a Jewish organisation that claims ownership over the land on which their homes were built.

Video Transcript

HARRY FAWCETT: This has become a nightly scene in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Vigils and protests aggressively broken up by Israeli security forces. At stake, the homes of hundreds of Palestinians long subject to an eviction campaign. The current tensions were sparked partly by this viral video, in which local woman, Mona Al Kurd, confronts a Jewish settler.

MONA AL KURD: You are stealing my house.

- And if I don't steal it, someone else is going to steal it.

HARRY FAWCETT: It was an acknowledgment of just how close Mona's family and three others are to being forced out. They've lodged a final appeal with Israel's Supreme Court, which is now saying it will hold another session on Monday. Mona's father, Nabil, who has already had one house seized by settlers, fears what could happen if the court rules against them.


INTERPRETER: We'll be in the streets because all of us, like me, we are old people. We don't work. We don't have incomes. And the cheapest rent around here is $2,000. How can we afford it?

HARRY FAWCETT: The homes were built for Palestinian refugees in an arrangement between the United Nations and Jordan, during the period of Jordanian rule, after 1948. A Jewish settler organization says the land was owned by Jews before 1948 and should be returned in light of Israel's seizure of East Jerusalem in 1967. The lawyer representing the Palestinian families says their counter-claims of ownership have not been properly assessed by the courts.

SAMI IRSHEID: We are dealing with the domestic legal system that rejects and denies the international humanitarian law and the international law as should be applied in East Jerusalem.

HARRY FAWCETT: The family's legal battle is being constrained by the limits of Israeli law, which Israel seeks to apply here in occupied East Jerusalem. But there is another legal argument based on international law and Israel's obligations as an occupying power. An argument that requires political pressure. Some has come from campaign groups and diplomats in recent weeks. Britain's mission to the Palestinians, tweeting out this video statement.

PHILIP HALL: The restitution and planning laws here and their implementation are unfair, and they breach Israel's obligations as an occupying power.

HARRY FAWCETT: Since the start of the Holy month of Ramadan, tensions in East Jerusalem have been unusually high. From Gaza, Hamas' military wing is warning of a high price for Israeli actions in Sheikh Jarrah. The consequences of a massive eviction here could be felt well beyond the families under threat of losing their homes.


HARRY FAWCETT: Harry Fawcett, Al Jazeera, occupied East Jerusalem.