The destruction of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem goes to the ICC News of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Beit Hanina, Occupied East Jerusalem – Nine people were injured and journalists were attacked by Israeli security forces this week when the Jerusalem municipality demolished a two-story building and home of the Karameh family in the East Jerusalem suburb of Abu Thor on the pretext that it was built without a building permit.

The family of 15 was forcibly evicted by Israeli police, while six of the wounded needed to be hospitalized, according to the Red Crescent. Hundreds of Palestinians are facing forced expulsion from their homes in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want to be their future capital.

But a family, the Salhiyehs, is taking Israeli authorities to the International Criminal Court (ICC) after they were evicted from their home in Sheikh Jara in East Jerusalem last week and the subsequent destruction of their home by the Jerusalem municipality.

“There is no justice, as an Israeli I no longer believe in my country. They ruined my life, “Lital Salhie, 40, told Al Jazeera.

Last week, Lital Mahmoud’s 43-year-old husband, several of their sons and their friends staged a demonstration on the roof of their house in Sheikh Jara, threatening to blow up a gas can after Israeli authorities tried to evict them from their home. have lived for decades.

A few days later, during a cold and rainy night, Israeli special forces stormed their home, arrested them at gunpoint and beat them. They were taken to prison for several days before their lawyer secured their release on bail.

A Palestinian whose home was destroyed by IsraelAdele Salhie holds a photo showing the neighborhood of his family home, taken before 1967. [Al Jazeera]

Destroyed homes

While Mahmoud was in prison, their home was destroyed by the municipality, leaving 18 homeless.

“The police took me past my destroyed house the next morning and showed me what they had done. We were not informed that the house would be destroyed, “Mahmoud told Al Jazeera.

“Mahmoud and I knew that the eviction order was against us personally, but not against the rest of the family, nor was there an order to demolish our home,” said Lital of the home, which was temporarily rented in the East Jerusalem suburb of Bate. Hanina.

“We lost everything and left with only our clothes on our backs. I don’t even have pictures of my children, “said Lital, who has been married to Mahmoud for 23 years. The couple has six children.

The family farm where Mahmoud worked, as well as centuries-old olive trees on their plot, were also destroyed.

Lital, an animal lover, managed to save some of the family’s pets, which remained trapped in the rain and cold after the demolition of the family home.

This is the second time the Salhiye family has been turned into refugees. In 1948, they were expelled from their home in the village of Ein Karem during the Arab-Israeli war.

In 1984, the Jerusalem District Planning Committee approved a construction plan for the Sheikh Jara district and designated the plot on which the family house and children’s room were built as a public building – although other public areas can be found for this purpose without it is necessary to evict a family home.

In July 2017, the municipality announced the expropriation of the plot, which Mahmoud’s parents bought in 1958.

The owners objected to the expropriation, but the court approved the expropriation and rejected the objection.

“View all details”

Critics say Israeli authorities are trying to Judaize East Jerusalem in favor of higher Jewish demographics.

However, the Salhiye family is challenging and plans to bring Israeli authorities to the ICC in addition to launching an international campaign highlighting the case of other Palestinians facing the expulsion and destruction of homes in East Jerusalem.

“On Monday afternoon, we met at Zoom with our lawyers in London, Bindmans Solicitors, who are partnering with the International Center for Palestinian Justice. [ICJP]representing several other Palestinian families from Sheikh Jara, “family lawyer Walid Abu Tayeh told Al Jazeera.

“They are studying the documents and looking at all the details before deciding the next step and working on the case since October, after we first consulted with them. We do not know when the case will be submitted to the ICC, but it may take a long time, “he said.

“What made everything possible was the announcement in 2019 by the ICC prosecutor to launch an investigation into whether the crimes committed in Palestine after June 2014 fall within the court’s jurisdiction,” Abu Taye said.

Expectations from the ICC

In 2021, the ICC panel ruled that the court’s territorial jurisdiction extended to the territories occupied by Israel since 1967: Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

“The ICC can now prosecute Israel for war crimes,” Abu Taye said.

“The ICC may decide that Israel must rebuild the destroyed house; that senior Israeli government officials involved in the demolition and expulsion may be arrested if they travel abroad; and that all Israeli actions in the West Bank, such as land theft, settler behavior and other human rights violations, may also fall under the jurisdiction of the ICC so that individual settlers can be tried as well as collectively.

The Salhiyeh family is taking other legal action.

“We have also been in contact with several U.S. senators in both the Senate and Congress regarding our case to launch an international campaign against home destruction and evictions, and my brothers in the United States are in contact with several law firms there. too, ”Abu Taye said.

East Jerusalem is illegally occupied under international law. “Extensive destruction and misappropriation of property unjustified by military necessity and committed illegally and senselessly” is a grave breach of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and is considered a war crime under the 1998 Rome Statute of the ICC.

Tensions are rising elsewhere in East Jerusalem, where Palestinians are either in resettlement or homeless.

Last week, Israeli and Palestinian peace activists were attacked by Israeli security forces as they protested against the impending eviction and destruction of the Salem family’s home.

An Israeli settler has been arrested for drawing weapons against protesters.

Hatem Abdel Kader, former PA Minister for JerusalemHatem Abdel Kader works with people in East Jerusalem who are at risk of being expelled and losing their homes [Al Jazeera]

Hatem Abdel Kader, the former Palestinian minister for Jerusalem, who is now co-ordinating the efforts of Muslims and Christians on behalf of the PA to prevent the Judaization of East Jerusalem, told Al Jazeera that destroying and evicting homes was provocative and dangerous.

“This increases tensions and can have serious consequences. “The international community must take action and the international courts must get involved in the battle,” Kader said.

Mahmoud Salhiye said he knew the upcoming battle would be long and difficult, “but we will not surrender without a battle.”

Crispin Blunt, a member of parliament and director of the International Center for Palestinian Justice, said the case of Sheikh Jara was already known.

“The ICJP is proud and privileged to stand by this family, as they represent not only their own interests but also a century of historical injustice to the Palestinian people individually and collectively,” he said.

“In the name of Israel, for all Palestinians and in the name of humanity, the case of Sheikh Jara must be a turning point in which justice and our common humanity begin to matter more than human insecurity driven by fear.

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