Until August last year, 28 Palestinian families lived in 28 housing units in the Shimon Hatzadik compound in east Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, which has been the location of lively demonstrations in recent months. Jews claim ownership of the entire site, and have started legal proceedings to evacuate 10 homes so far.
In four cases, a decision has been reached, and the Palestinian families will be forced to leave by court order. Six cases are still under deliberation, and on Tuesday, two claims were filed against two more families.
The claims, filed in the name of "Nahalat Shimon Hatzadik," say that the construction by the defendants on land owned by the claimants is illegal, an injustice and constitutes trespassing. It was also claimed that the defendants "often disturb and/or harass and/or threaten their neighbors."
Certainly it is true that there are daily disputes between the two parties. Just two days ago, a dispute ended with the light injury of a Jew and the arrest of a Palestinian.
The claimants want the court to charge the Palestinian families expenses for the expulsion, court fees, and lawyers' bills.
"The Arabs were served a statement of claim because they encroached on Jews' land which had been legally purchased," Yonatan Yosef, spokesman for the Jewish settlers in the neighborhood, said to Ynet.
"Our right to settle Jerusalem is anchored in the Bible, which is our 'land registration' for the Land of Israel. The people of Israel returned to its land after an absence of 2000 years, and there is no reason why we shouldn't return to homes that belonged to us just 60 years ago," he said.
Yosef also referred to claims that Jews were acting provocatively. "The biggest provocation was three years ago, when Arabs of east Jerusalem elected Hamas." The spokesman confirmed that according to plans, all 28 homes will be in Jewish hands eventually.
'Sane Israel v. Messianic insanity'
The headquarters of leftwing activists against Jewish settlement in the Arab neighborhood responded: "It is not possible that the State of Israel again endangers its international standing because of a group of fanatic Kahanists. One hand is held out in reconciliation to the US, while the other hand continues to settle the heart of Jerusalem.
"The struggle in Sheikh Jarrah is the struggle of a sane Israel and Hafez Hayim (love of life) against the Messianic insanity of Kahane's students and admirers of Baruch Goldstein who twist (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu and (Jerusalem Mayor Nir) Barkat round their little finger."
Ir Amim, an organization working for social justice in Jerusalem, added: "We must not ransom Israel's international standing for the sake of a handful of extreme settlers who want to destroy any chance of putting an end to the conflict in the city."