The UN’s human rights office (OHCHR), on Friday, called on Israel to immediately halt all forced evictions in East Jerusalem as well as to exercise maximum restraint in the use of force while ensuring safety and security.
According to the OHCHR, eight Palestinian refugee families residing in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem are facing a risk of forced eviction due to a legal challenge by the Nahalat Shimon settler organisation.
For four of these families, the risk is imminent.
“The evictions, if ordered and implemented, would violate Israel’s obligations under international law,” OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville said.
“Given the disturbing scenes in Sheikh Jarrah over the past few days, we wish to emphasize that East Jerusalem remains part of the occupied Palestinian territory, in which International Humanitarian Law applies. The occupying Power must respect and cannot confiscate private property in occupied territory, and must respect, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country.”
He went on to note that Israel cannot impose its own set of laws in occupied territory, including East Jerusalem, to evict Palestinians from their homes.
On Thursday, Tor Wennesland, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, also urged Israel to stop demolitions and evictions in the neighbourhood, in line with its obligations under international humanitarian law.
“In addition, the Absentee Property Law and the Legal and Administrative Matters Law are applied in an inherently discriminatory manner, based solely on the nationality or origin of the owner,” OHCHR spokesperson Colville said.
“In practice, the implementation of these laws facilitates the transfer by Israel of its population into occupied East Jerusalem. The transfer of parts of an occupying Power’s civilian population into the territory that it occupies is prohibited under international humanitarian law and may amount to a war crime,” he added.
The OHCHR spokesperson also said that forced evictions could violate the rights to adequate housing and to privacy and other human rights of those who are evicted.
“Forced evictions are a key factor in creating a coercive environment that may lead to forcible transfer, which is prohibited by the Fourth Geneva Convention and is a grave breach of the Convention.”
Mr. Colville also called on Israel to respect freedom of expression and assembly, including of those who are protesting against the evictions, and to exercise maximum restraint in the use of force while ensuring safety and security in East Jerusalem. (Source: UN News)