Dalia Hubara says she feels very bad about Tuesday’s eviction of the Shamasneh family from their home in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem. Hubara, one of the heirs to the house, told Haaretz she “does not like to see people removed from their homes, not Jews and not Arabs.”
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Hubara inherited the building, a rather small house in the neighborhood, named in Hebrew Shimon Hatzadik, from her mother, who lived there until 1948. Over 10 years ago the family, who inherited the property, sold their rights to right-wing activist Aryeh King, today a member of the Jerusalem city council. They had wanted to sell the house to a Palestinian family before that, but the Palestinians could not raise the money needed, said Hubara.
“King and his friends got in touch with us and we thought it would be good to be rid of the property and sell it, she said. “I considered selling it to the people living there, my husband was in contact with them. We wanted to do it so what happened [Tuesday] would not happen. But they couldn’t manage to buy the house,” said Hubara.
When they saw it wasn’t working out and King was constantly after them to buy it, they sold it to him in the end. “But I didn’t evict people and I’m not involved. I had completely forgotten about the story,” she said.
Michael Ben-Yair, a former attorney general, came to the house on Tuesday. He too inherited a family property in Sheikh Jarrah, but says he, like all the other Jewish families who lived in the neighborhood, has already been compensated for the loss of the home. In return they received a home abandoned by Arabs who fled West Jerusalem during the War of Independence, he says.
Ben-Yair said he intends on requesting all the ownership documents concerning the house and plans on giving them, for free, to the family that was evicted. “If it is even possible to speak of ‘justice under conditions of war,’ then such justice was not done here,” he wrote on Tuesday on his Facebook page.
Hubara says her family never officially received property from the government after they were expelled in 1948. “A long time has passed and my mother is 94, I don’t know, I can’t say what happened,” she says. “Since we signed with King at least 10 years have passed.” As far as the family is concerned, they sold the property and divided up the money between them, she says.
But it is still the Hubaras who were the formal plaintiffs demanding the eviction of the Shamasneh family, while lawyers hired by King represented them.
In February 2005, Hubara’s daughter Odelia was murdered when a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up, killing five people and injuring 50, outside the Stage Club night club on the Tel Aviv beach front. A right-wing news site broadcast an article on Tuesday that said the Hubara family was happy about the eviction, seeing it as a belated form of revenge against the Palestinians for their daughter’s murder.
Hubara was furious about the article and said it was disrespectful of her daughter. “I don’t want to make political statements but it was very hard for me to think they made this connection, I didn’t sleep all night because of what they did,” she said.
King said, “I’m not very happy that they threw them out on the street either. But they brought it on themselves. The original eviction date was in March 2015. But the woman who lived there was supposed to give birth and they asked for another three months. I told them take half a year and leave whenever you want in the next half year, but they continued to neglect and ignore it.
“Even in the last few weeks,” King continued, “we offered them another period until the father passes away, but I said I don’t trust them anymore because they have a debt of 180,000 shekels [about $50,000] for rent, and damage of another 160,000 shekels.” King says he told them if they provide a check from a guarantor he could trust, he would consider letting them stay longer, but they refused. It’s unpleasant, he said, but “they did everything possible so [the eviction] would happen.”
The elderly parents have no reason whatsoever to remain in the street because their daughter lives right next door, and there is evidence they will receive housing aid from the European Union, said King.
He added that Ben-Yair’s claims that all the Jewish refugees from the neighborhood had received alternative homes from the government was incorrect. They were never given homes to own, but only to lease for a long period, he said.