London 28 June 2023- Nora Ghaith, aged 68, and her husband Mustafa Sub Laban, aged 72, face imminent eviction from their house in occupied East Jerusalem to make way for an Israeli settler organisation. The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) has written an urgent communication calling on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to take urgent and decisive action on behalf of the Ghaith-Sub Laban family.
For seventy years, the family have lived in their house in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem under a protected tenancy granted by the Jordanian government in 1953. The house, located in Aqabat Al-Khalidiyeh, is part of a large building complex, much of which has been seized by Israeli settlers. The Ghaith-Sub Laban family are the last remaining Palestinian residents.
The family has suffered from 45 years of repeated legal action by settler organisations and harassment from the Israeli authorities. Since 2010, the Kollel Galicia Trust settler organisation has brought repeated actions in the Israeli courts seeking to evict the family and take over the house on grounds that it is a Jewish endowment.
The Israeli courts ruled in favour of the settlers in March 2022, and the Israeli High Court rejected an appeal by the family in February 2023. Now the family face expulsion from their home from anytime between today, the 28th of June to the 13th of July.
In August 2022, ICJP submitted an Article 15 “Gateway” communication to the ICC on behalf of two families regarding Israel’s extensive destruction and expropriation of Palestinian property. The Centre is yet to receive a substantive response from the ICC. This latest submission will add the Ghaith-Sub Laban family to that communication.
Rafat Sub Laban, Nora and Mustafa’s son, claims that another thirteen families in the same neighbourhood and 218 families across occupied East Jerusalem face a similar fate. The eviction occurs against the backdrop of 5,700 new settlement homes being approved in the Occupied West Bank this week.
As a further – and particularly cruel – punitive measure, the Israeli occupation authorities have informed Nora and Mustafa that if they do not leave voluntarily, they must pay the costs of their own forcible transfer, including the costs of the armed forces brought to the house to forcibly remove them.
If Israel carries out this eviction, it may well constitute a war crime under international law. According to the Rome Statute, extensive destruction and appropriation of property by occupying powers, transfer of an occupier’s own civilian population into occupied territory and the deportation of transfer of the population of an occupied territory all constitute war crimes.
Rafat Sub Laban, said:
“The forced displacement of my family is set by a notice from the Israeli collection and enforcement authority at the request of a settler association. My parents have been fighting against this for 47 years in Israeli courts.
We don’t believe this system can afford any Palestinians rights or justice. Many of the judges over the years were themselves settlers living in 1967 occupied territory.”
Notes to Editors:
- The ICJP is an independent organisation of lawyers, politicians and academics who support the rights of Palestinians and aim to protect their rights through the law.
- Please find details of the August 2022 ICJP communication to the ICC here.
- Please find the full pdf version of the June 2023 ICJP communication to the ICC below.
- For information on the 5,700 new settlements approved in the Occupied West Bank, please see: West Bank US ‘troubled’ by Israeli settlement expansion plans, BBC News, 26 June 2023 (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-66027025).
- For more information or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson, please contact Jonathan Purcell, Public Affairs and Communications Officer at [email protected]