Sheikh Jarrah, Jerusalem Day
Bystanders watching a flag parade in Sheikh Jarrah on Jerusalem Day, June 1, 2011. Photo by Daniel Bar-On
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In a surprise ruling, the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court yesterday rejected a request from Jewish settlers in Sheikh Jarrah to evict another Palestinian family from its home. Judge Yitzhak Shimoni also ordered the settlers to pay NIS 20,000 legal expenses to the family.

The Farhan family lives in a small house over the burial cave of Simon the Just in Sheikh Jarrah, where they moved after leaving their village of Lifta in 1948. The settlement of Shimon the Just developed around their home over the years, and they are now surrounded by Jewish families.

The Farhans, a family of 18, live in just three rooms. The house itself belongs, legally, to the committee of the Sephardi community, which acquired the lands that were under Jewish ownership before 1948.

The settlers said that the Farhans violated the rent agreement by making changes in the house, failing to pay rent and harassing their Jewish neighbors.

Shimoni found several flaws in the lawsuit, among them the fact that it could not be proven that the Farhans had made changes in the house and that they had not paid rent.

"The verdict is a little unusual in the general legal landscape of Sheikh Jarrah," said the family's lawyer, Mahmoud Dahla. "I hope this is the beginning of a process that will bring about a change in the way the legal system treats the residents of Sheikh Jarrah."

Until now, the courts have ruled overwhelmingly in favor of Jewish settlers in Sheikh Jarrah seeking to evict Palestinians from their homes.