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Israeli settlers seize Sob Laban family’s house in Old City of J’lem

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (The Palestine Information Centre) Extremist Jewish settlers seized on Tuesday the house of the Sub Laban family in Aqabat al-Khalidiya in the Old City of Occupied Jerusalem after Israeli police forces stormed it at dawn, evacuated it from its Palestinian owners, and arrested those who rallied there in solidarity with the family.

Last Sunday, the deadline set by the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) for the evacuation of the Sub-Laban family from their home expired. The house is located in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City and near the Aqsa Mosque.

Several years ago, the settlers took over an upper part of the building and another part of it, but the apartment of the Sub-Laban family remained in the middle of the building, which is surrounded by homes seized by settlers on all sides.

The family rented the house in 1953 from Jordan and was granted protected lease rights, but after the occupation of Jerusalem, it was placed under the management of the so-called “Custodian of Absentees’ Property” with the IOA claiming that its ownership belonged to Jews.

In 2016, Israeli courts had prevented the children of the Jerusalemite family from living inside the house to prevent them, as a third generation, from staying in the house as protected tenants.

For more than four decades, the Sob Laban family has been fighting a legal battle against both, settler groups and the IOA, to prevent its expulsion from the house.

The Sob Laban family was not alone in grappling with Jewish settlers’ greed to take over Palestinian homes in Jerusalem. In the late 1970s, the IOA together with settler groups expelled the two Palestinian families that used to live near the house of the Sob Laban family.

Although the family was not expelled at that time, they have been exposed to constant settler harassment under police protection.

As part of several attempts to force the family from its home, the IOA in 2010 declared that the house ownership belonged to a settler group called “Ateret Cohanim.”

Ateret Cohanim is an Israeli settler organization founded in the 1970s for the sole aim of seizing Palestinian homes and property in Jerusalem.

In response to the false ownership claims by Ateret Cohanim, the family battled against it in Israeli courts for six years insisting on their right to stay in their home.

One of those Israeli courts allowed the Sob Laban parents to temporarily stay in their home without their children. Ten years after the ruling, in May, 2023, an Israeli court issued a final decision ordering the parents to leave their home in order to make way for a Jewish settler family.

The displacement of the Sob Laban family from their home is an integral part of relentless and continuous Israeli attempts to Judaize the holy city. The strategic location of the home – a few meters away from the Aqsa Mosque compound and al-Buraq Wall (western wall) – would allow the IOA to further encircle the Mosque with Jewish settlers.

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