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Security or Intimidation

To reach the courtyard of the house, you leave the sidewalk and pass a guard in a tiny boxlike room perched on the roof of a neighboring structure. You then go down a steep flight of old stone stairs, past the back of several homes, through a small playground, and down a long narrow corridor between houses. The blue and white flags of Israel mark the territory for the settlers but we did not see a Palestinian flag. From the moment, you leave the street you are under surveillance from either guards or closed circuit cameras.
Surveillance camera at the entrance to the Al Kurd's patio

Armed guard at the end of the entrance way to the Al Kurd's patio

For seven years, the Al Kurds have watched an armed guard walk past their house every half hour, day and night. These are private security guards, hired to protect the settlers. I spoke with one guard whose family brought him to Israel from San Francisco when he was twelve. They are young; many are students. They use the long, uneventful nights to catch up on their studies. They know the guns are unnecessary. They are there to intimidate, not protect. They know this. When stopped and informed that he did not need a gun, a guard just laughed. They have finished military service. Guns and intimidation are part of the culture to them. They are paid to provide security even though there is no threat.

Armed guard making his half hour rounds.

Armed guard. The apparatus on the pistol makes for more accurate shots.

Armed guard on the roof of the only Israeli settler home in the area.

Another view of the settler home above the Al Kurd patio. It was reportedly purchased for several million as a first step in gaining entrance into the complex.

In July, as legal pressures were mounting, and an order of eviction for the Al Kurds was issued, a group of international activists took up residence in the courtyard. Beautiful painted banners surround the area. The banners proclaim their determination not to be displaced again. They are committed to this place they call home. The Al Kurds have turned down offers of several million dollars, if they would sell and leave Sheik Jarrah.

The banner in the patio reminds all who enter that the family will never leave. The family gives hope and courage to the other residents in the complex.

Palestinians who continue to stay in East Jerusalem face a harsh struggle.

Home invasions, the illegal apartheid wall, and settler violence are part of the apartheid system.

There are two tents and mattresses to catch a nap between shifts. An international is on watch at all times. If the guards can patrol with guns, a peaceful presence should be as alert and available to people who want justice. We shared our space with activists from countries as far apart as Austria and Iceland and so many places in between. We learned that the Al Kurd’s story is being discussed internationally and indignation is mounting. Along with the United State, Mahmoud Abass, Palestinian President has denounced the takeover of Palestinian property. His aid wrote, “Such a development would deal a death blow to the peace process. http://www.palestine-pmc.com/details.asp?

Tents on the patio for internationalsTents on the patio for internationals. Chairs for the many daily visitors.

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