On 22 April 2021, representatives of 28 Palestinian families constituting approximately 500 Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem, and 191 endorsing organisations (including Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East), sent a letter to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), calling to urgently include the imminent forced displacement of Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah as part of the open investigation within the Situation in the State of Palestine. Specifically, the families called on her Office to include as part of the investigation the related war crimes and crimes against humanity, including forcible transfer, appropriation of property, persecution, apartheid, and other inhumane acts causing great suffering or serious injury to inter alia mental health arising from their forced evictions.
(Click here to download the letter with full signatories)
The letter outlines that following the ruling of Israeli courts in favour of eviction lawsuits undertaken by a settler organisation, 87 Palestinians in the neighbourhood are at imminent risk of forced eviction including four families by 2 May 2021 and three other families by 1 August 2021.
Outlining how the current forced evictions would constitute their second or third forced displacement, the Sheikh Jarrah families highlighted their forcible displacement from their homes in Palestinian towns, cities, and villages, during the Nakba, and their ongoing denial of their inalienable right to return to their homes and properties since 1948. They further underscored the coercive environment they are subject to in Jerusalem, which is designed to transform the city’s demographic composition to secure Israeli-Jewish control over Jerusalem and drive ongoing Palestinian displacement.
The Sheikh Jarrah families continue to endure a lengthy, exhausting, and unaffordable legal battle since 1972 in order to confront the eviction lawsuits brought against them by a settler organization before Israeli courts, which unlawfully apply Israeli discriminatory domestic law to the occupied territory. The families are now pursuing accountability before the ICC.
In their letter, the Sheikh Jarrah families called on the Office of the Prosecutor to publicly condemn the imminent forced evictions of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood and urgently investigate this case within the Situation of Palestine and intervene to forestall the displacement of these Palestinian families from their homes. The families are supported in their call by 191 organisations, including Palestinian, Israeli, regional and international human rights organisations; Palestinian coalitions representing over 140 Palestinian civil society organisations; solidarity groups for Palestine; faith-based groups; indigenous groups; racial justice groups; and student groups, including Al-Haq, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, American Muslim Bar Association, the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, Arab Organization for Human Rights, B’Tselem - The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Grassroots Jerusalem, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), ICAHD (The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions), Jewish Voice for Peace, the National Lawyers Guild, Norwegian People’s Aid, Pax Christi International, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Palestinian NGOs Network, Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC), The Red Nation, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights and War on Want.