On 6 February 2023, the Israeli occupation’s high court rejected a request from the Ghaith-Sub Laban family to appeal an eviction order issued in March 2022 in favor of an Israeli settler organization. The family’s request for appeal, submitted through their lawyer Mohammad Dahleh, is the last legal intervention possible within the Israeli occupation’s legal system.
This latest decision comes after over 45 years of repeated lawsuits against the family by Israeli occupation and its settlers with the aim of seizing the family’ house that is rented from the Jordanian Government since 1953 under a protected tenancy lease. The High Court’s refusal to intervene means that the elderly couple, Nora Ghaith-Sub Laban (67) and her husband Mustafa (72) will be forcibly removed from their house after 15 March, clearing the way for an Israeli settler organization to seize the property.
The family house, located in Aqabat Al-Khalidiyeh in the Muslim quarter is part of a large building complex, seized by Israeli settlers over the years leaving the Ghaith-Sub Laban family the last Palestinian residents. In 2016, the Israeli high court partially accepted a previous appeal by the family against an earlier eviction order, granting them a partial “remedy of justice” whereby the house would remain with the family for additional ten years until 2026. That partial “remedy of justice” however, also ruled that elderly Nora and husband would be the only tenants, while their sons, daughter and grandchildren would not be permitted to live with them in the same house. Additionally, the settlers were allowed to file a new eviction case against the family two years following the high court ruling in 2016, which is the case that resulted in the current eviction order.
The forced displacement of the Ghaith-Sub Laban family is not an isolated case; several families in the same neighborhood are also facing proceedings initiated by Israeli settlers, in addition to dozens of families in Jerusalem’s Old City, Silwan, Sheikh Jarrah and other neighborhoods in the occupied city. According to the United Nations’ Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), at least 218 Palestinian families in Jerusalem are under the danger of forced displacement in favor of Israeli settlers, as well as dozens of other properties seized over the years. In the upcoming month, Israeli occupation authorities and courts are finalizing proceedings to prepare for the forced displacement of five other families in occupied East Jerusalem, in addition to the Ghaith-Sub Laban family, including four families in Sheikh Jarrah and Kubaniyet Um-Haron and one family in Batn Al-Hawa in Silwan.
Forced displacement of Palestinians and seizing their houses, along with the house demolitions policy that targets over tens of thousands of Palestinian houses and structures in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, are part of a systemic policy and practice of forcible transfer of Palestinians, settlement expansion and increasing Jewish presence in all the occupied Palestinian territory that Israel has been practicing non-stop since 1948. The aim of these policies is to create a Jewish majority and the slow transfer of Palestinians either through direct forced displacement and destruction of property or through creating a coercive environment that leads to their transfer.
The timing of the high court’s refusal to intervene in the Ghaith-Sub Laban’s case is not coincidental, as Israeli occupation authorities aim to forcibly displace the family before the beginning of the upcoming holy month of Ramadan. It also reflects well the current politicization of the court, as well as the role of the Israeli legal system in facilitating Israel’s expansion, annexation, and oppressive policies against Palestinians under the disguise of justice. Israel’s new government of settlers and extremists has been very vocal about its hatred and racism against Palestinians, and are accelerating measures of forced displacement, demolitions and collective punishment of the entire Palestinian population.
The family reminds Israel, the occupying power, that East Jerusalem is an occupied territory to which the Fourth Geneva Convention applies. The forced displacement and transfer of protected persons is a grave breach of international law and a war crime. The wanton destruction of civilian property is a war crime. The family also reminds the international community of their third state party obligations under the Convention and demands the international community to take all measures necessary to bring to a halt the impending forced displacement and demolitions of Palestinian families and civilian property, in all of the occupied Palestinian territory.
Finally, the family reminds the international community and the United Nations that Israeli measures and policies of systemic forced displacement and destruction of Palestinian property are catalyst for further escalation and violence. There cannot be peace or quiet while Palestinians are being killed displaced and dispossessed and their basic rights are trampled on a daily basis. It is time for justice and accountability.
Ghaith-Sub Laban Family