The World Communion of Churches (WCRC) calls its membership and the wider ecumenical movement into prayer and action for the impending evictions in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem. This latest threat of evictions is part of the ongoing suppression of human rights of Palestinians and a denial of their right to life and livelihood.
The Israeli district courts have ordered a forced eviction of four Palestinian families by 2 May 2021 with additional families to be evicted by August.
The Sheikh Jarrah district is made up of refugees who were expelled from their towns and villages during the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948. In 1956, the Jordanian government along with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) reached an agreement to settle these families in East Jerusalem in return for their UNRWA documents. Approximately twenty-eight families were provided housing by the Jordanian state with the stipulation that after three years they would receive ownership of the property; this was completed in 1959.
Since 1967 and the occupation of Jerusalem, the eastern part of the city has been brought under Israeli control, and Jewish communities have registered ownership of the land. A number of cases for eviction have been brought to the Israeli courts. These cases are considered discriminatory since East Jerusalem is regarded an occupied territory under international law, and an occupying state cannot forcibly evict residents.
However, due to a current move to populate the area with Israeli settlers, Palestinian residents are being forcefully evicted and are facing continual harassment. Suma Al Kawasmi, a resident of the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, told the WCRC about the harassment faced by the residents, saying that Israeli settlers “are walking around the neighbourhood with guns and that is why, most of the time, we are always afraid to leave the kids in the neighbourhood.” Further, the WCRC has learned that settlers’ dogs attack the residents.
The WCRC calls on its membership to:
The WCRC further calls its members to study and sign the Kairos Palestine document, “A Cry for Hope: A Call to Decisive Action.”
Image courtesy of The Action Network.