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Israel releases members of Shamasna family as protests continue in Sheikh Jarrah

Sept. 7, 2017 5:23 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 9, 2017 3:36 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli police released two members of the Shamasna family on Wednesday night, who were detained a day prior during an Israeli settler-driven eviction from their home in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, as Palestinians in East Jerusalem have continued nonviolent protests outside of the Shamasna family home.

According to locals, Muhammad Shamasna, 45, and his son Dirar, 23, were released without conditions after being detained and interrogated for “assaulting an Israeli settler and a policeman,” in Sheikh Jarrah when the family was forced out of their home of 53 years.

During and since the eviction, Palestinians have staged sit-ins at the home to protest the expulsion of the family, while a local committee has called for Friday prayers to be performed in front of the Shamasna family home.

The Shamasna family was the first Palestinian family to be evicted from the neighborhood since 2009 under an Israeli law that allows Jewish Israelis to claim ownership over properties that had once been owned by Jews before 1948, when thousands fled East Jerusalem during the Arab-Israeli war.

However, this law does not extend to Palestinians, hundreds of thousands of whom were displaced from their lands and homes in 1948.

Sheikh Jarrah has become a central target for Jewish ownership claims, as Jewish Israelis believe the neighborhood was once the site of a 19th century Jewish community.

In 2009, the Um Kamel al-Kurd, Ghawi, and Hanoun families were completely evicted from their homes, while Israeli settlers partially took over the al-Kurd family home, who still live side-by-side years later. More than 60 Palestinians were displaced during the wave of evictions in 2009.

On Sunday, six more Palestinian families were handed eviction notices, ordering them to leave their homes within 30 days owing to Israeli settler claims on their properties.

Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) Scott Anderson said in the statement on Wednesday that he was “appalled at the resumption of forced evictions in Sheikh Jarrah and particularly worried about the humanitarian impact on this refugee family (Shamasna).”

“Palestine refugees, who have already endured multiple episodes of displacement, should not be subjected to forced evictions,” Anderson said.

According to UN documentation, 180 Palestinian families -- comprising of 818 individuals, 372 of whom are children -- are at risk of forcible displacement in East Jerusalem owing to settler-driven evictions. UNRWA noted that in Sheikh Jarrah, 60 percent of those at risk of displacement are Palestinian refugees.
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