Protestors call on settlers to evacuated disputed Sheikh Jarrah home
Palestinians, leftists rally against entrance of Jews into al-Kurd family home in east Jerusalem in accordance with court order. 'Settlers thwarting future agreement; it will be hard to divide Jerusalem into two cities,' one of them says. Settlers: They must respect the law
More than 100 Palestinians and left-wing activists arrived at the al-Kurd family home in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah on Wednesday to protest a Jerusalem District Court order that called on the family to evacuate the premises.
Protestors chanted, "End the occupation" and "Settlers, evacuate the home immediately."
Dozens of settlers took over the home of the Palestinian family on 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 carrying a court order naming them as the legal owners. Police confirmed that the order was valid.
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 were invited to the police station to attempt to work out their differences in a peaceful manner.
Nabil al-Kurd, the father, told Ynet," This is my home; I've lived here since 1956. A group of 50-60 settlers broke into the apartment and removed the furniture in an aggressive manner. The furniture broke as a result. They immediately changed the lock on the door."
According to al-Kurd, following lengthy discussions at the police station it was decided that the family would be permitted to remain in the house for an additional 10 days.
"The settlers left the house, but they their guards remained so I couldn’t bring the furniture in," he said.
Al-Kurd said the court issued an order calling for the evacuation of six sheikh Jarrah homes, including his own, by February 15.
"The court's decision is based on forged documents presented by the settler groups. If they have documentation proving that the land is theirs, we too have papers proving that we own half of the land in Baka and Talbiya (Jerusalem neighborhoods). If this is the law, then let us return to those neighborhoods," he said.
The battle for homes belonging to the Shimon Hatzadik compound 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.
The Jews who took over the al-Kurd family home issued a statement saying they expect leftist groups to respect the court order.
Shmuel, a Jew who resides in the compound, said, "The evacuation of two homes here is causing more of a ruckus than the evacuation of Gush Katif," referring to the Jewish settlement bloc that was evacuated during Israel's unilateral disengagement from Gaza in 2005.
Yusef Abdu, a Palestinian resident of the neighborhood, said, "We do not trust the courts because the support (the Jews). A man lives here for 60 years and he's evacuated just like that? What kind of country is this? Is there no law here?"
Rafi, a Jewish resident of Jerusalem, supported the Palestinians' claim. Waving a sign reading, "Jerusalem will not become Hebron", he said, "In Hebron the (Jewish) settlement gradually expanded and eventually took the city over from the Palestinians.
"Now (the Palestinians) live there in ghettos and are afraid to walk the streets for fear of settler attacks," he said. "The same thing is about to happen here. This is how a future agreement is being prevented. It will be difficult to divide Jerusalem into two cities."