The human rights of Palestinians should take precedence over an initial court ruling to evict them from their homes in Jerusalem, a senior academic on Middle Eastern politics has said.
Eyal Mayroz, a senior lecturer at Sydney University and a former counterterrorism specialist in the Israeli army, told Central News that Palestinians displaced from their land, do not enjoy the same rights and protections as Israel’s Jewish population but there are protections afforded to them in international law, which in his view should take precedence..
“From a narrow legal perspective, the Jewish ultra nationalist foundation which had managed to buy the land on which these houses are built does have a case,” Dr Mayroz said before adding: “But if you look at it from a broader perspective of human rights and other perspectives of political considerations then they, the families, should have a right to stay.”
A Jerusalem District Court ruling to evict 13 Palestinian families, about 58 people, from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood are at the centre of the escalations in violence. The decision is currently under appeal in Israel’s Supreme Court.
Evictions of Palestinian refugees have been occurring since 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank and enacted laws that allow Israelis to reclaim land that belonged to them before 1948. Palestinian refugees, for whom buildings in Sheikh Jarrah were erected, do not have the same right to reclaim land lost to Israel in 1948.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees were displaced by the Israeli occupation in 1948. There are now over 5 million Palestinian refugees scattered around the world.
Both sides today declared a ceasefire after the US Biden administration intervened, publicly warning Israel stop its bombardment in Gaza.
Rights of Palestinians have consistently been trampled on by Israel for the last decade, to the point where crimes against humanity are alleged to have been committed against them in an apartheid like situation
The recent assaults, which have led so far to over 232 deaths in the Gaza Strip, including 65 children have displaced over 48,000 Palestinian refugees who were seeking shelter at UNRWA schools. Hamas rocket fire has also killed 12 Israelis, including two children.
“[T]he rights of Palestinians have consistently been trampled on by Israel for decades, to the point where crimes against humanity are alleged to have been committed against them in an apartheid like situation,” Dr Mayroz said, referring to a recent report by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) that legally accepted the term ‘apartheid’ to describe Israeli policies and military practices towards Palestinians.
People cheer in front of the rubble of a damaged building as #Palestinians celebrate in the streets following a ceasefire, in Gaza City May 21, 2021. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem #غزة #gaza pic.twitter.com/zcI16G9QLs
— mohammed jad salem (@msalem66) May 21, 2021
The report states: “Beyond formal state confiscation, discriminatory laws and policies [that] enable settler and settler organisations to take possession of Palestinian homes, evict the Palestinian landowners, and transfer their property to Jewish owners in East Jerusalem neighbourhoods,” are qualities of Israeli government practice that qualify the forced evictions of Palestinians as ‘apartheid’.
The HRW report refers to ‘apartheid’ as “an intent to maintain a system of domination by one racial group over another… and one or more inhumane acts, as defined, carried out on a widespread or systematic basis pursuant to those policies” – a definition based on the Apartheid Convention and the Rome Statute.
Israel has firmly rejected claims of an apartheid system operating.
The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBD) said on its website: “The BDS campaign… draws false analogies between Israel and South Africa’s former apartheid regime with the aim of delegitimising and demonising Israel.”
Boycott, Divestments, Sanctions (BDS) is an international pro-Palestine movement that promotes the use of boycotts, divestments and economic sanctions against Israel to pressure the state into complying with its obligations under international law.
However, many Jewish groups including the JBD denounce the BDS movement, claiming it is an “insidious anti-Semitic” movement. Countering the movement has become one of the top priorities for the Israel lobby in the US.
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) further defended Israeli conduct, saying that organisations such as the BDS “denies Israel the right of self-defence” and “does not acknowledge the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in their national homeland, Israel”.
[There was] a persistent campaign of incitement to racist violence using the age-old myth that the Al-Aqsa Mosque was in danger of Jewish desecration
The ECAJ which calls Hamas a ‘terrorist organisation’ accused the group, which is an elected defacto governing authority for parts of the Palestinian Territories, although not recognised by the United Nations, of “shielding themselves behind Palestinian civilians in Gaza”.
Adding: “Carefully orchestrated violence by Palestinian groups in Jerusalem [had] preceded the rocket attacks from Gaza. This included the stockpiling of slabs of stone in a Muslim holy place and a persistent campaign of incitement to racist violence using the age-old myth that the Al-Aqsa Mosque was in danger of Jewish desecration, which the Palestinian groups themselves were committing.”
The JBD also reiterated that Hamas, which has fired over 3,000 rockets at Israel ‘indiscriminately’ is a “terrorist organisation [and]… Hamas bears full and total responsibility for the loss of life on both sides”.
Additional reporting by Amaani Siddeek.
Main image: Israeli police on patrol in Lod. Police have been involved in evicting Palestinian families in Jerusalem. Credit: Israel Police (Facebook)