Times of Israel Corrects About Shamasneh Family Eviction Case

CAMERA’s Israel office prompted Times of Israel corrections in a Sept. 5 article about the eviction of the Shamasneh family from their home in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Originally headlined “Palestinian family evicted from East Jerusalem home after 50 years,” the article repeatedly asserted that the family lived in their home since before 1967.
For instance, the first paragraph had stated: “Israeli police on Tuesday evicted a Palestinian family from the East Jerusalem home in which they lived for over half a century. . . .”

Further on, the article reiterated, mentioning “the house in the upscale Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, where the couple lived for 53 years.”

Finally, the article quotes Peace Now without challenge: “The eviction of the Shamasneh family, who resided in the house since 1964 . . . “

While the Shamesnehs claim that they lived there since 1964, the court ruled that the family was unable to prove residency prior to 1968. In order for east Jerusalem Arabs to receive “protected tenant” status, they must be able to demonstrate that they signed a lease prior and inhabited the dwelling prior to August 20, 1968.

Yet, the court ruled that Ayoub Shamasneh, the father, was unable to prove that he lived in the home in 1964. He claimed he lost his rental documents and he did not produce the documents from the tenant who preceded him. Shamasneh did not call any neighbors as witnesses to testify on his behalf, nor did he call the daughter of the previous tenant, whose address he knew. He did not even call his wife or son as witnesses.

As reported by Presspectiva, CAMERA’s Hebrew web site, the relevant papers that Ayoub Shamsneh did produce included a 1972 arnona (city tax) document, a 1969 certificate from the electric company, a water document from 1974, and a 1965 work identity document, which only listed his neighborhood (Sheikh Jarrah), but no specific address. In short, none of Shamasneh’s evidence demonstrated that he had lived in that home prior to 1968. To the contrary, his own evidence pointed to residency only post-1968 (in other words, less than 50 years).
According to i24 News:

The courts ruled that the Shamasne family has lived in the house since 1972, however the family claims it has been resident since 1964 (albeit without a lease for part of the period) and that therefore they cannot be evicted under law.

Given the legal implications of the unfounded claim that the Shamasneh’s lived in the home since 1964, the difference is significant.
Following communication from CAMERA, Times of Israel editors commendably changed the headline and the article. Both the headline and the first paragraph now accurately refer to the family home of “decades,” as opposed to more than 50 years.

And, instead of stating as fact that the Shasmasneh family lived in the home for 53 years, editors amended the text to say that Fahamiya Shamasneh said the family lived there for 53 years.

Finally, editors added key context about the court findings which had not appeared in the original article:

The court determined that the Shamasnehs were unable to prove residency prior to 1968, as is required in order to receive “protected tenant” status. Rather, while the family claimed to have been resident since 1964 — though not always with a lease — the Israeli judiciary found they had been resident since 1972.

For additional Times of Israel corrections prompted by CAMERA, please see here.

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