Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Settlers take over east Jerusalem home

Jewish-Palestinian battle over 28 homes formerly of Shimon Hatzadik neighborhood continues. Dozens of people armed with court order take over Palestinian family's home that courts say belonged to Jews before State's establishment

Dozens of settlers took over the home of a Palestinian family in east Jerusalem Tuesday in an ongoing custody battle involving 28 houses that courts say belonged to Jews before the establishment of the State.


The settlers arrived at the home, located in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, carrying a court order naming them as the legal owners. Police confirm that the order was valid.


A number of the neighborhood's residents and human rights activists who arrived on the scene in order to protest against the settlers were arrested by officers that accompanied the group to the home.


When the protest died down, the Palestinian family remained in the central part of the house while the settlers occupied a segment that had been added on to it.


The court order says the family must be evicted as they do not pay rent to the legal owners of the house, but eviction procedures have not yet commenced. Representatives of both sides have been invited to the police station to attempt to work out their differences in a peaceful manner.


The battle for homes belonging to the Shimon Hatzadik neighborhood began with the capture of east Jerusalem by Israel in 1967 – when a Sephardic committee displayed documents proving the land had belonged to them prior to 1948. However Palestinian families residing in the neighborhood, backed by the Jordanian authorities, claimed the property was theirs.


In 1972 a court determined that the land did indeed belong to Jews, but said the Palestinian families already living there could continue to occupy the homes as statutory tenants if they agreed to pay rent to the original owners.


Most of the families refused to recognize the arrangement, and have since waged a legal battle to try to prove their ownership. In recent years most of the residents have exhausted all legal options, and authorities have begun to evict them.  

Palestinian resident turns violent (Photo: Reuters)


'Hostile settlers destabilizing area'

"About 50 settlers and 20 security men came here, broke the door, and took over," Salah al-Karawi, a resident of the neighborhood who was himself evicted recently, told Ynet.


"My family is scattered at neighbors' homes. Look and see, there is a tent outside every home, and that's how they live," he added.


Orly Noy, of the Ir Amim organization for coexistence, explained that the residents "were lodged here in the '50s by the UN and the Jordanian government."


Noy added that the presence of Jews in the area was creating instability. "Clearly the presence of a hostile population of settlers in the midst of a Palestinian neighborhood does not add to the stability in the city," she said. "The settlers are trying to promote the appearance of a good neighborhood, but this is not the case."


Maher Khanoun, who was evicted from his house a month ago, told Ynet it had been a painful experience. "Every time I see settlers going in and out of the house I was born in just kills me," he said.


"All of the 28 homes here are legal. We have a contract with the Jordanian government, we didn't steal the land. What they are doing to us is illegal – throwing people out and taking their homes."


Efrat Weiss contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 11.03.09, 16:14
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