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Return Visit to Sheikh Jarrah

In October 2008, MPTers spent about two weeks at the home of the al-Kurd family in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem. MPTers and other international peace activists slept in tents on the patios, while other internationals, Palestinians and sympathetic Israelis came daily as a protective presence to deter against the total occupation of the al-Kurd home by Israeli settlers. In early November, just before a court decision was to be made, Israeli soldiers drove the family out and settlers occupied the total house. At this same time, orders of eviction were given to other homes in the area.

Within a week of the eviction Mr. al-Kurd who had been ailing, died of a heart attack. His wife Umm Karmel and others set up a protest tent at the bottom of the hill from their home. Four other families in the area who expected immediate eviction also had people sleeping in the tent. Since November, Palestinians and international peace activists have spent days and nights in the tent and with the four families in their homes. There has been a constant flow of Palestinian, international and Israeli supporters to the tent and to the area.

When the MPT spring team came to Jerusalem the first week of April 2009, they briefly visited the tent site where Umm Karmel warmly welcomed them. A young Palestinian supporter seated outside the tent invited them to be seated and explained to them the painful history of the al-Kurd family and Sheikh Jarrah.

In July 2008, the US State Department issued an official complaint to the Israeli government over the eviction of the al_Kurd family, questioning the legality of the Israeli settler group claims of purchasing the land. [www.haaretz.co.il/hasen/spages/1005342.html]

With the aid of attorneys and the Turkish government, Ottoman Empire documents were obtained that proved that Jewish Sephardic Leadership never purchased the compound but only rented it. It also proved the document presented by the Israelis was not authentic. [Haaretz March 19, 2009 p.1. www.haaretz.com]

April 3, 2009 Secretary Hilary Clinton blasted Israeli plans to demolish Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem as a violation of its international obligations and “unhelpful” to Middle East peace efforts. Clinton said she planned to take up this issue with the incoming Israeli government. www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1068546.html

Despite the protest tent, support of internationals, Palestinians, and sympathetic Israelis, the international media, and the US State Department [through the US Consul General in Jerusalem and Clinton] this tent has been bulldozed four or five times. Today, April 5, 2009, the four families who are specifically threatened with eviction have not received protection through the Israeli courts and expect that they could be evicted at any time. Lawyers for the families are seeking a freeze on evictions from the Israeli High Court. The families and the coordinators of volunteer groups who stay with the families are seeking urgently needed volunteers, as a previous group is leaving tomorrow.

1 comment:

CJD said...

It is at least good to hear that our State Dept. under Clinton is no longer turning a blind eye! Hope progress will come soon...