Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR) today provides an important update on its recent Urgent Action to prevent the imminent unlawful forced eviction of the Palestinian Ghaith-Sub Laban family from their family home in occupied East Jerusalem. The forced eviction of the family set for Monday 30 November 2015 has been cancelled due to the imposition of a temporary injunction by the High Court of Israel (the Court). It must however be emphasised that the injunction might only be in place for a few weeks.
This development followed submission of grounds of appeal by the family to the Court asserting that lower courts made a legal error by accepting inadmissible testimonies based on hearsay, rather than fact, from witnesses who have a clear conflict of interest. The appeal further states that considerable damage will be caused to the family should they be evicted from their family home.
The Court has given the Galetzia Trust – who initiated the eviction process and is related to a number of Israeli settler organisations that openly work to create a Jewish demographic majority in occupied East Jerusalem – until Thursday 3 December 2015 to send their response to the family’s request for an appeal hearing. The Court will then make a decision whether or not to permit an appeal hearing. If the Court decides that the grounds of appeal are insufficient, the appeals process will end and the injunction against the family’s forced eviction will be lifted. The Court is expected to make its decision a few weeks after the 3 December deadline.
Against this context, LPHR reasserts its clear position that forced displacement of protected persons is a grave human rights violation that is prohibited by international law, and accordingly the eviction order against the family must be revoked.
In a further important development, the British Consulate-General Jerusalem has significantly echoed LPHR’s Urgent Action by recently publishing the following tweet: “Concerned about planned eviction of Sub Laban family from Old City. Raised with Municipality. Eviction should be halted.”
LPHR reiterates its urgent and considered request for the British Government to enter 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.
18 November 2015 – British Consulate in Jerusalem publicly expresses its concern over the imminent forced eviction with the following tweet: “Concerned about planned eviction of Sub Laban family from Old City. Raised with Municipality. Eviction should be halted.”
18 November 2015 – the High Court of Israel issues a temporary injunction that cancels the scheduled forced eviction date of Monday 30 November 2015. This follows the submission of grounds of appeal against the decision of the District Court in Jerusalem to uphold the eviction order against the family. The injunction may only last a few weeks depending on whether or not the High Court of Israel accepts the family’s request for a full appeal hearing.
Ghaith-Sub Laban family members facing imminent 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.