United Nations: Evacuations in Sheikh Jarrah may amount to "war crimes"

The United Nations urged Israel on Friday to end all forced evictions against Palestinians in East Jerusalem, warning that its actions may constitute "war crimes."

"We call on Israel to end all forced evictions immediately," said the spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Robert Colville, during a regular press conference in Geneva.

The call comes after the arrest of 15 citizens at night, in the wake of clashes between Israeli security forces and protesters against the evacuation of Palestinian families from East Jerusalem, according to the police.

The clashes erupted in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem, in the midst of an intense legal battle over the fate of Palestinian families threatened with eviction in favor of Israeli settlers.

"We would like to emphasize that East Jerusalem is still part of the occupied Palestinian territories, and international humanitarian law applies to it," Colville added.

The current tension revolves around ownership of land on which the homes of four Palestinian families have been built.

Earlier this year, the Jerusalem District Court issued a ruling in favor of Jewish families claiming property rights in this neighborhood of East Jerusalem that Israel occupied and annexed.

According to Israeli law, if Jews can prove that their families were living in East Jerusalem prior to 1948, they could demand the restoration of their "right to property." The law does not include Palestinians who lost their property during the war.

The court's decision angered the Palestinians, who challenged it and organized protests that often led to confrontations with the occupation.

Colville stressed that "Israel cannot impose its legislative system in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem."

"We also call on Israel to respect freedom of expression and assembly, and this includes protesters against the evictions, and to exercise maximum restraint in the use of force," the spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said.


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