Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR) today releases an Urgent Action to prevent the imminent forced eviction of the Palestinian Ghaith-Sub Laban family from their family home in occupied East Jerusalem. Eight members of the Ghaith-Sub Laban family, including two young children, are facing unlawful forced displacement on Monday 30 November 2015.
The eviction process of the Ghaith-Sub Laban family from their home of over 60 years by means of an Israeli court order was initiated by the Galetzia Trust. The Trust claimed that the family had once vacated their home and had thus lost their ‘protected tenant’ status under Israeli law. The Trust is related to a number of Israeli settler organisations that openly work to create a Jewish demographic majority in occupied East Jerusalem.
The Galetzia Trust’s petition to evict the Ghaith-Sub Laban family from their home was granted by an Israeli Magistrates Court on 14 September 2014, and the court eviction order was confirmed on 11 October 2015 after an Israeli District Court dismissed the family’s appeal. This is despite the clear prohibition against forced displacement of protected persons living under occupation that is provided for by international law.
On 2 November 2015, the family received a notice from the Israeli Execution Office informing the family that the forced eviction from their home has been set for Monday 30 November 2015.
Nora Ghaith-Sub Laban, 59, who has lived in the house from birth, said last week about her family’s imminent eviction from their home:
“Israeli occupation authorities have been trying to displace my family since the 1970s. Throughout the years I have seen many of my friends and neighbours forcefully displaced by Israel’s unlawful evictions and house demolitions. I have fought non-stop for the past 40 years just to live in peace in the house where I was born and grew up. This house is not just walls for my family and me. Every corner and every old wall and tile have memories for us.
Evicting us will not only make us homeless, it will be like enforcing a capital punishment on my family and me. It will deprive us of our fundamental rights and dignity as human beings. Our lives will never be the same.
The international community has repeatedly reiterated that Israel’s actions in the occupied territory are unlawful and has repeatedly expressed concern. My family and me, as well as dozens of Palestinian families in similar situation have no time left. We need immediate and urgent intervention and protection to preserve our lives and dignity, and I urge you to take that action now, before it’s too late…”
LPHR recently submitted an urgent action letter to the Foreign Office and British Consulate in Jerusalem urging their intervention to prevent the family’s forced displacement which would clearly violate international law. In response to LPHR’s previous letter submitted before the family’s unsuccessful appeal hearing, the Foreign Office expressed their concern about the possibility of the family’s forced eviction and stated they would continue to monitor the case closely.
Tareq Shrourou, Director of Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, said:
“The imminent forced eviction of the Ghaith-Sub Laban family is emblematic of the unlawful, systematic and discriminatory policy and practice of forced displacement of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank. Forced displacement of protected persons is a grave human rights violation that is prohibited by international law, and yet in this case it is openly pursued by an Israeli legal entity, given legal approval by an Israeli court, and is due to be enforced by Israeli authorities.
LPHR strongly urges the British government’s continued action on this urgent matter by entering into dialogue with the Israeli government to prevent the unlawful and discriminatory forced displacement of the Ghaith-Sub Laban family from their family home of over 60 years.”
About Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR): LPHR is a legal charity in the United Kingdom that works on projects to protect and promote Palestinian human rights
Timeline of the Ghaith-Sub Laban family case:
1953 – the year that the Ghaith-Sub Laban family move into their home. They entered a protected lease agreement with the Jordanian government custodian that took over “absentee” property following the 1948 hostilities.
1967 – the Israeli Guardian of Absentee Property took over all the “public property” handled by Jordan following the 1967 hostilities. The family was eventually given a “protected tenant” status under Israel’s Protected Tenant Law of 1972, which allows them to remain in their home as long as they continue to pay rent and live in the house. The family have continuously paid the rent from 1953 to the present date, including for a period when they were prohibited from accessing the property.
1970s – the Israeli Guardian of Absentee Property banned the family from making restoration works during the 1970s despite knowledge that the Israeli Jerusalem Municipality had ordered the family to carry out the restoration work. In the late 1970s, the family was forced to temporarily relocate to another house in Jerusalem due to the hazardous state of their family home.
1980s – the Israeli Guardian of Absentee Property ordered the eviction of all Palestinian residents in the building, transferring residency to Jewish Israelis, who were given permission to undertake the restoration previously denied to the Palestinian residents.
2000 – the family was finally allowed to return to their family home after a lengthy court process.
2010 – the Israeli Guardian of Absentee Property passed the property’s ownership to the Galetzia Trust. This Trust is related to a number of Israeli settler organisations, including Aterim Coharet, which operates in the Muslim quarter of occupied East Jerusalem. In 2010, the Galetzia Trust appointed an Israeli settler to manage the property. As of 2010 the family were paying rent to this individual as an agent to the Galetzia trust.
14 September 2014 – the Israeli Magistrates Court in Jerusalem granted a petition by the Galetzia Trust to evict the family on the basis that they had once vacated their house and thus had lost their “protected tenancy” status. The Court heard only testimonies by settlers and the case was itself heard by a judge who is a settler.
31 May 2015 – the family’s appeal hearing took place before the District Court in Jerusalem.
11 October 2015 – the family’s appeal was dismissed by the District Court in Jerusalem and the family is ordered to vacate their house within 45 days. This deadline expires on 26 November 2015.
2 November 2015 – the family received a notice at their door from the Israeli Execution Office (which executes judicial orders) informing them that an eviction has been set for Monday 30 November 2015 in favour of the Galetzia Trust.
Ghaith-Sub Laban family members facing imminent forced eviction:
1) Mustafa Numan Sub Laban (65 years old)
2) Nora Ghaith-Sub Laban (59 years old)
3) Ahmad Sub Laban (36 years old)
4) Rafat Sub Laban (27 years old)
5) Lama Sub Laban (22 years old)
6) Ruba Qadamani-Sub Laban (Ahmad’s wife) (31 years old)
7) Mustafa Ahmad Sub Laban (9 years old)
8) Kinan Ahmad Sub Laban (3.5 years old)
This case sits within a context where hundreds of Palestinians residents of occupied East Jerusalem are at risk of forced displacement due to settler activities, especially in the areas of the Old City, Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan, and where 35 per cent of land in occupied East Jerusalem has been confiscated for settlement use.
The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) estimates that there were at least 265,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) in the occupied Palestinian territory as of July 2015, of which 5,775 were reported displaced between 2009 and early April 2015 following evictions and demolitions in the occupied West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.
LPHR is significantly concerned that the Ghaith-Sub Laban family’s pending forced eviction is a direct result of their Palestinian identity, and is part of Israel’s ongoing and discriminatory policy of unlawfully forcibly displacing Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank to make way for expanding illegal Israeli settlements.
Please see LPHR’s blog on the use of the “absentee property law” in Israel to forcibly evict Palestinian families in occupied East Jerusalem from their homes.