Take Action: Tell the JNF not to Evict Palestinians from East Jerusalem
Himnuta, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Jewish National Fund in Israel (KKL-JNF), planned to evict the Sumarin family from their home in Silwan, a neighborhood of East Jerusalem on November 28. The Sumarins, a family of twelve, including five children, a pregnant mother, and a grandfather on dialysis, have lived in their home for more than forty years.
Due to public outcry, led by T'ruah (formerly Rabbis for Human Rights-North America), Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR) in Israel, and our supporters, the Jewish National Fund announced on November 24 it was delaying the eviction of the Sumarin family.
Now we must redouble our efforts to convince the Jewish National Fund to cancel the eviction permanently.
Background: Twenty years ago, the Israeli government asserted ownership of the Sumarins’ home through the Absentee Property Law. This law allows the State of Israel to take possession of East Jerusalem properties whose owners were not physically present when Israel first took control of the area in 1967. In the case of the Sumarin family, the children of the original owner, Musa Sumarin, were declared as absentees.
The state didn’t take over the Sumarin home right away. It wasn’t until 1991 that the Israeli government transferred the property to Himnuta—the KKL-JNF subsidiary— along with seven other homes in Silwan. After a multi-year legal process, Himnuta has acquired an eviction order, dated November 28, 2011. Adding injury to injury, the court also ruled that the family must pay Himnuta damages of two million shekels (more than $530,000).
Update: JNF issued a response statement to this action asserting that they bear no responsibility for this eviction. Instead, they claim that in the early 1990s, the Israeli KKL-JNF leased the land to Elad, an organization of Jewish settlers whose explicit political agenda is the “Judaization of East Jerusalem”—that is to say, the removal of Palestinians from the area, and that they have no involvement in the legal proceedings against the Sumarin family.
We were surprised by this response. T'ruah obtained a copy of the eviction notice that the Sumarin family received. This notice states that the eviction is “for the benefit of Himnuta, located in the KKL-JNF building in Jerusalem.”
One of two things are is happening here, and both possibility are unsettling. Either JNF is covering up its involvement in the eviction of the Sumarin family, or JNF is allowing the settler organization, Elad, to use its name in the course of legal proceedings.
Despite their initial denial of involvement in the eviction of the Sumarin family, the JNF announced on November 24, 2011 it was delaying the eviction. Then on November 27, 2011, the Jerusalem court legally froze the eviction of the Sumarin family, providing Himnuta and KKL-JNF the opportunity to permanently cancel efforts to evict the Sumarins. KKL-JNF/Himnuta had until December 18, 2011 to submit a response to the court's decision to freeze the eviction procedures. The court granted KKL-JNF/Himnuta's requests for extensions to submit their response to the court.
Now is the time to act to ensure that the eviction order against the Sumarin family is canceled permanently.
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