London, 24th July 2023- Earlier this month, on the 11th July, the Sub Laban family were evicted from their home in the Old City of Occupied East Jerusalem of seventy years to make way for an Israeli settler organisation. On 28th June, the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) had written to theInternational Criminal Court, asking the Office of the Prosecutor to take pre-emptive measures to prevent the eviction. Since their forced removal from their home, the family have faced continued harassment from Israeli officials and Israeli settlers.
Yesterday, on the 23rd July 2023, Israeli settlers, including the children of settlers, removed the furniture and belongings of the Sub Laban family from their home. The furniture, carelessly strewn across the street, has now been repurposed by protestors to display pictures and information detailing the 1948 Palestinian Nakba, when 750,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed and displaced from their land and homes.
The Sub Laban family and activists supporting the cause were forced away from the property by Israeli police and settlers. One video emerged of an Israeli settler antagonising Rafat Sub Laban by mockingly offering him yogurt that had been in the family’s refrigerator. Rafat, son of Nora and Mustafa Sub Laban, pushed the yogurt away, spilling it on the floor and on another Israeli settler stood nearby. Rafat was then arrested and transferred to the Al-Qishla interrogation centre. He had his feet shackled for seven hours and he has only been released today on bail and was banned from entering the old city for 15 days. Rafat’s brother, Ahmed was also banned from entering Al Aqsa Mosque on the same day under the pretext of “harming public order.”
The forcible transfer of the Sub Laban family may well constitute a war crime and a crime against humanity under international criminal 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 or transfer of the population of an occupied territory all constitute war crimes.
The family had been fighting eviction from their home for forty-seven years and it has now been handed over to settlers, in an ongoing process of “de-Palestinisation” of the occupied city of Jerusalem.
Dania Abul Haj, Legal Officer at ICJP:
“ICJP’s view is that the forced removal of the Sub Laban family may constitute a war crime under the Rome Statute. But beyond legal interpretations of the eviction itself, the aftermath is just as harrowing.
The psychological impacts of continuous harassment are simply cruel and vindictive. From the many videos that have emerged outside the house, anyone can see the mockery shown by Israeli settlers. Their confidence is palpable because they know that their behaviour will be protected by the complicit Israeli police, as shown by the arrest of Rafat Sub Laban.”