Elderly Palestinian couple to be evicted from Jerusalem home

Elderly Palestinian couple to be evicted from Jerusalem home
3 min read
13 June, 2023
Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem face home demolitions, evictions and revoking residency permits.
Nora Ghaith's home offers a view spectacular view of the Dome of the Rock. Israeli settlers want to evict Nora and her husband Mustapha from their home of more than 70 years. [Ibrahim Husseini/TNA]

An elderly Palestinian couple could be evicted from their East Jerusalem home after a Jewish settler group claimed ownership of their building.

Nora Gaith, 68 and her husband Mustapha, 72, are longtime residents of Aqabat El-Khaldiya in the Old City, but came a step closer to losing their home after the Jewish settler group petitioned a court to request their eviction.

According to Nora, her family rented the house back in 1953 from Jordan, when the Hashemite Kingdom controlled East Jerusalem, and have lived there ever since.

Following Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, settler groups - backed by the Israeli government - have launched a relentless campaign to "reclaim" Jewish properties "lost" during the war. Many of these claims are false, Palestinian activists say.

Sitting in her small living room that offers a spectacular view of the golden Dome of Rock, Nora appears resolute to the challenge facing her.
"Enough occupation, enough pressure, enough prisons, enough demolitions, enough killing," she said. 

The court could approve the request to evict Nora and her husband at any time, although a scheduled eviction last week was not executed after Israeli police said the timing was unsuitable. 

In 2016, an Israeli court ruled that Nora and her husband could remain in their home for up to ten years. Two years later, the settlers took advantage of Nora's illness and won an eviction order claiming she had not been living at her home in the Old City. 

Nora appealed against the decision, but in March of this year, Israel's High Court stated that the eviction ruling stands. 

Nora and Mustapha's plight brings to mind the eviction suits brought by Jewish settlers against Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah. 

In 2021, Israeli settlers' attempted to seize Palestinian homes in Sheikh Jarrah sparking widespread protests in occupied East Jerusalem and Palestinian towns in Israel. This escalated into an 11-day conflict with Hamas, the Islamic group that rules the Gaza Strip. 

At least 175 Palestinian families are facing eviction proceedings in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan brought by various settler organisations, according to the Israeli anti-settlement NGO Peace Now. 

Ra'fat, Nora's youngest son, suspects Ateret Cohanim, a settler organisation whose aim is to create a Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem, is behind the push to drive Palestinians in East Jerusalem from their homes. 

Ateret Cohanim notes on its website that over 1,000 Jewish families live "close to the Temple Mount area" a description Jewish people use for the Al-Haram al-Sharif, which houses the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque.

68-year-old Nora may soon be kicked out of her home in the old city in occupied East Jerusalem. Ibrahim Husseini/TNA 12 June 2023
68-year-old Nora may soon be kicked out of her home in the old city in occupied East Jerusalem. Ibrahim Husseini/TNA 12 June 2023


Under Israeli law, Jews can reclaim properties lost during the conflict while Palestinians can't.

In 1970, the Israeli parliament passed "the Legal and Administrative Matters Law" allowing Palestinian properties in East Jerusalem that were transferred to the control of the Jordanians in 1948 to be seized. The law was not extended to Palestinian landowners who lost properties in the same war in West Jerusalem. 

Raafat, Nora's youngest son, recently moved back to his family home to support his parents despite a 2016 Israeli court order ruling that only Nora and Mustapha can reside in the house, not their children. 

"What is happening is a form of oppression," he told The New Arab.

With the imminent threat of expulsion from her home of more than 70 years, solidarity campaigns to keep the elderly couple in their home have steadily grown. 

Support from diplomats from Europe and some left-wing Israelis appear to have influenced the Israeli government to delay the eviction, however, few believe this is a long-term solution to the issue.