Salem family from Sheikh Jarrah, Jerusalem
The Salem family, of 12 people, are currently under threat of being deported from their home in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, east Jerusalem. Fatma Salem, the mother of the family and the daughter of Palestinian refugees from 1948, was born in this very house. Right-wing settler organizations, protected by the State of Israel, are laboring to dislodge Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem neighborhoods, with the goal of Judaizing the city.
Yehonatan Yosef, a right-winger and member of the Jerusalem City Council, claims ownership of the Salem family home. In December 2021, Aryeh King, deputy mayor of Jerusalem, and Yehonatan Yosef, knocked on the door of the Salem family. Yosef told Fatma, "This is my home," and handed her an eviction notice. Stunned Fatma asked, "Really?" Yosef: "Yes, the house is ours and we will get it back." King was filming the conversation and the order delivery to Fatma Salem. According to Israeli law, only law enforcement are permitted to deliver such eviction orders; Deputy Mayor and the City Council member are taking illegal actions against residents of the city that raise questions about their conduct and motivation.
The Salem family lives in the western part of the neighborhood where Jews used to live before 1948. The Jewish residents who used to live there were evicted at the beginning of the war in 1948. However, after the war they received compensation for the homes they left behind, usually in the form of Palestinian houses left empty during the war. The current Palestinian residents of the neighborhood are the refugees from 1948 who were put in these houses following a legal agreement with the Jordanian government. In the 1967 war Israel occupied east Jerusalem, since then all the eastern neighborhoods live under the Israeli rule.
The eviction is made possible by the Legal and Administrative Matters Law of 1970. According to the law, Jews who lost their homes in 1948 will be able to get them back, and the State is allowed to take ownership of homes that have no heirs. Palestinians who lost their homes in 1948 will not be able to receive back the houses they left behind during the war in the territories that have since become the State of Israel.
This discriminatory law permits the eviction of the Salem family from their home and forces them to become refugees for the second time. The law forbids them to ever return to the home from which Fatma Salem's parents were chased out during the war.
Yosef's family did not own the house in the past. Right-wing NGOs take over homes in East Jerusalem by deceitful means. Ever since Yosef handed Fatma the eviction notice, legal hearings about it have been held in Israeli courts. On April 24, 2023, representatives of the Jerusalem Municipality arrived in the family's home, escorted by the police, to deliver a demolition order for the room where Fatma lives. Clearly, Yosef is taking advantage of his position in the Jerusalem City Council in order to make Salem family's life miserable.
Many residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood are facing eviction from their homes. Every Friday, for the last 13 years, a demonstration is held in the neighborhood in support of the residents. Usually, Yehonatan Yosef arrives during the demonstration and shouts slogans against it. Several times he was heard shouting: "We want a Nakba now," expressing loudly his goal to eject Palestinians from their homes again. Nakba is the name given to the catastrophe inflicted upon the Palestinians in 1948. A member of the Jerusalem City Council openly calls for the eviction and removal of those Palestinians who were annexed to the city, and who are now residents of Israel who are supposed to be protected by Israeli law.