Daily Israel Report

High Court Evicts Arab Squatters in Jerusalem

Two Arab families were evicted on Sunday following a High Court ruling that recognized Jewish ownership of Jerusalem homes.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 8/2/2009, 9:57 AM

Flash 90

Two Arab families were evicted from Jewish-owned homes in the Shimon HaTzaddik neighborhood of Jerusalem on Sunday morning. The evictions took place following a Supreme Court ruling in which the court found in favor of Jewish families who claimed ownership of homes in the area.

The evictions took place without unusual disturbances, police said.

The Arab families claimed that they owned the houses in which they lived. Jewish families argued that they were the legal owners of the homes, and that the Arabs had squatted there illegally in an attempt to wrest control of the property from its rightful owners.

The Arab families presented documents that appeared to show Arab ownership of the homes dating back to the Ottoman period. However, the court found that the documents had been forged, and that the documents presented by the Jewish plaintiffs were legitimate.

The neighborhood in question is located near the 2,000-year-old gravesite of the sage Shimon HaTzaddik. The neighborhood was founded in the first half of the 20th century by Jewish families, but fell under Jordanian rule following the 1948 War of Independence and was quickly populated by Jordanian Arabs.

Since the reunification of Jerusalem under Israeli rule in 1967, a number of Jewish families have moved back into the area. Their arrival has been greeted with hostility from local Arabs and from the Palestinian Authority, which has demanded control over the neighborhood as part of a future Arab capital city in Jerusalem.

Jewish activists have fought several legal battles in recent years regarding properties in Jerusalem and in Shimon HaTzaddik in particular. Activists say they are undeterred by the difficulties of regaining control of Jewish property, and plan to continue their efforts to reestablish a Jewish presence in historic Jerusalem neighborhoods.