Sep 5, 11:05 AM EDT

Israel evicts Arab family from Jerusalem home Jews claimed


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AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean

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JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israeli police evicted a Palestinian family from their home in east Jerusalem on Tuesday to make way for new Jewish tenants who claimed ownership.

Municipality officials backed by police enforced a court order to remove the six-member Shamasneh family from a home claimed by heirs of a Jewish family forced to abandon it in 1948, when it came under Jordanian control following an Arab-Israeli war.

Israel took control of the area after the 1967 war and continued existing rental arrangements with Arab tenants. But a law allowing Jews to reclaim former homes or repurchase them has set up such conflicts.

Police were seen escorting the Shamasnehs out of the home, with the elderly Ayoub Shamasneh carried out by his relatives.

Shamasneh, 79, said his legal case was still pending. "How can they do this to us?" he said.

His wife Fahima, 75, called it "pure injustice" that after more than 50 years in the house they "throw us out in the street."

Palestinians claim the evictions aim to increase east Jerusalem's Jewish population and change the area's demography, making it harder to divide the city in any eventual peace deal. Israel says it is merely enforcing the law.

Shortly after the eviction, Jewish settlers entered the house accompanied by a private security guard. An Israeli flag hung in the entranceway to the kitchen.

Yonatan Yosef, a spokesman for the Jewish residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in east Jerusalem, said he was pleased to see another home "redeemed."

"Another house in the Land of Israel, another house in Jerusalem, close to the Western Wall, close to the Old City, close to the Temple Mount, which is the heart of the people of Israel," he said. "We hope that all the houses in this neighborhood ... will return to Jewish hands."

Israel captured east Jerusalem, along with the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians claim those territories for their hoped-for state.

Also on Tuesday, Israel's Shin Bet security service said it arrested a senior Palestinian security official for inciting to violence on his Facebook page. It said Muhammad al-Sawiti had posted a picture of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and Holocaust mastermind Adolf Eichmann, called for attacks against Jews and praised those who had carried them out.

Israel blames a two-year-old wave of violence on Palestinian incitement, and has recently sought to crack down on it. The Palestinians say the attacks, which have lessened of late, are a result of 50 years of occupation.

Overnight, Israeli troops shut down a printing shop in Ramallah that they accused of producing "inciting and terror-related material." Ali Obedat, the shop's owner, denied the charge.

An Israeli human rights group meanwhile warned the country's leaders Tuesday that reported plans to demolish two Palestinian communities in the Israeli-controlled West Bank would constitute a war crime for which they would bear personal liability.

B'Tselem said it was trying to "stop the commission of such a crime" with its written warning to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and others.

Lieberman told Israeli reporters last week that his ministry hopes to complete plans for evacuating the hamlets of Susiya and Khan al-Ahmar within a few months, arguing they were built "without authorization." Lieberman's office confirmed that he had made the remarks.

B'Tselem said this constitutes forcible transfer that is prohibited under international humanitarian law, which requires an occupier to protect those under its rule.

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