Palestinians scuffle with Israeli security forces outside the court in Jerusalem on May 26, 2021 during a protest over Israel's planned evictions of Palestinian families from homes in the eastern sector's Silwan district. AFP
An Israeli court Wednesday postponed a hearing in a case that could see two Palestinian families expelled from their homes in occupied east Jerusalem's Silwan district so Israeli settlers can move in, their lawyer said.
The delayed hearing on the dispute comes less than three weeks after a similar case in the city's Sheikh Jarrah district sparked Israel's crackdown on Palestinian protesters and civilians. The crackdown was followed by Israel's 11-day aerial and artillery campaign on Gaza Strip.
Wednesday's court session was delayed after the Palestinian families petitioned the attorney general to weigh in on the matter, their lawyer Yazeed Qawaar said.
"Such a public case must include the opinion of the attorney general," he said. "It's obvious that the government was supporting the settler project and therefore it's up to the attorney general to take the responsibility."
He said the families were now waiting for a decision -- possibly within the next week -- on whether or not the Jerusalem district court would refer the file to the top prosecutor.
An AFP correspondent saw dozens of protesters, including Palestinians from concerned families and Israeli peace activists, demonstrate outside the court.
"What do you think, occupier?," one placard read. "My nation is steadfast and will not be humiliated."
Around 700 Palestinians in the Batn al-Hawa area of Silwan on a hill south of Jerusalem's Old City risk displacement under such forced eviction cases, Israeli anti-occupation group Peace Now says.
Zuheir Rajabi, head of the Batn al-Hawa neighbourhood committee, said Wednesday's cases concerned dozens of his relatives.
"The families were told for the first time about the expulsions in November 2020, and the decision was confirmed in March 2021," he said.
There are now several hundred settlers in Silwan, living among some 50,000 Palestinians.
Palestinian families say Israeli courts do not recognise their ownership documents from the Jordanian authorities who controlled east Jerusalem until 1967, when Israel occupied that part of the city.
In 1970, Israel passed a law allowing Jews to reclaim property they had lost in or before 1948, the year of Israel's creation.
Activists say that law is discriminatory and does not offer any recourse to Palestinians who may have lost land during the same period, including for example homes in now Israeli west Jerusalem.
*This story was edited by Ahram Online.