Palestinian Authority Evicts Three Families From Kuwaiti-owned Homes
A fourth family filed a motion that delayed the measure and afforded protections
Three Palestinian families were evicted from their homes in the West Bank city of Ramallah, at the direction of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Office and following warnings issued in September 2017 by the Public Prosecution Office. A fourth Palestinian family that challenged the decision won a last-minute injunction preventing the forced removal.
“The Abu Sbitan family was conscientious to protect itself,” Fawaz Barghouthi, Director of the Palestinian Judicial Information Center, stressed to The Media Line. He explained that the eviction orders were illegal as they did not include a provision outlining the ability within 30 days to file a complaint before an Objections Committee which, in turn, “can approve the order or decide to escalate the case by taking it to court.”
While conceding that the Kuwaitis have the right to recover their properties, Barghouthi emphasized the need for Palestinians to be able to defend themselves and their interests. He lamented the fact that the other three families had failed to do so and thus were blocked from taking legal recourse.
“I can’t even walk, I have nowhere to go. May God take revenge on them,” an elderly resident of one of the homes cried out to The Media Line as her belongings were being removed from the premises.
The families had lived in the houses since before the 1967 war, after which they began renting them from the Israeli Custodian of Absentees’ Property, part of the civil administration set up to govern the newly-conquered West Bank. Following the 1993 signing of the Oslo Accords, the homes were transferred to the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority’s Property Tax Department and Ministry of Housing, to which occupants continued making rental payments.
As such, the independent al-Haq organization contended that “the measures amounted to unlawful evictions that violate the State of Palestine’s obligations” under various international human rights conventions to which it previously voluntarily acceded. The NGO therefore called on the PA to provide “equitable remedies” to those affected.
“I never imagined something like this would happen,” a child conveyed to The Media Line, adding that the experience was “horrifying” and that she had not been given time to collect her clothes and toys.
The evictions were carried out by Palestinian security forces, some of which gained access to buildings by breaking down doors and damaging property.
“I was born in the house and lived all my life here. I don’t want to leave,” the youngster implored.
In 2008, then-Ramallah governor Saeed Abu Ali also headed the Palestinian Presidential Committee in charge with dealing with property claimed by Kuwaitis in the West Bank. At the time, he noted that several “Kuwaiti personalities” had broached the subject with Abbas who, in response, “took great care of the Kuwaiti file…by restrict[ing] their claims in terms of location and use.”
Relations between the Palestinian and Kuwaiti leaderships have at times been strained, most notably when Yassir Arafat in 1990 backed Saddam Hussein’s invasion of the oil-rich Gulf nation, a move that precipitated the first of two American military interventions in Iraq.