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East Jerusalem: the threat of violence and eviction


Tuesday, 28 July 2009
This past week MPTers spent Tuesday and Wednesday nights providing international presence at a home that is currently under an eviction order in the predominantly Arab neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem. The status of Jerusalem has been one of the most controversial issues in the Israel/Palestine conflict since both Palestinians and Israelis want the city for their capital. According to an article in Haaretz, the United States government includes Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem when calling for a freeze on settlements.

This particular home, which houses three families, has had an eviction order for 37 years and is continuously involved in court proceedings. Shortly after the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, an Israeli settler organization presented the owners of this home with what the Israeli Court has now proven to be falsified documents from the Ottoman Empire claiming the land. This house is one of the homes that the U.N. built along with the Jordanian government for Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war. Although the owner is not a political activist, he told MPT that this issue has affected him his whole life and he is determined to keep the home that he and his three children were born in. The family has decorated the front of the home with banners proclaiming, “We will never leave our home”.

In the past months, the eviction order deadline has become imminent and so internationals have been keeping a continuous presence since March, at the request of the family. Internationals provide support and a peaceful presence to de-escalate the continuous settler attacks and harassment. Israeli police, including undercover officers, habitually drive by the home, intensifying the fear of eviction. Since the home could be demolished at any time, the family must always be present and on alert. This house is just one of the 28 homes under the threat of eviction and demolition by Israel in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. One of the homes has already been demolished.

While MPTers were present at the home, an intoxicated settler came to the house and attempted a forced entry. The owners of the house told him to stay away while internationals positioned themselves around the rest of the house to ensure that he could not enter. The settler kept asking about the signs on the home while trying to look inside. In the past, settlers have forced Palestinians from their homes in order to occupy the property. The settler eventually left.

This tent is inhabited by a family that was evicted from their home and is now harassed by settlers

A half an hour later, MPTers and other internationals were notified that the same settler had gone to a nearby tent that is now the home of a Palestinian woman who has been evicted from her house. The settler attacked the woman with a rock, hitting her over the head. An ambulance was called after she went unconscious for sometime. MPT was informed the next night that all the local hospitals and doctors refused to treat her unless she would change her story, and not speak of any settler attacking her. This woman is now suffering from internal swelling in her head, along with constant head pressure.

The first night MPTers stayed the night, a car of 3-4 young settler boys, aged 14-16, drove by at 4am, stopping in front of the house and throwing objects at the family, yelling and making obscene hand gestures. Approximately two hours later, local municipality officials stopped in front of the home to harass and intimidate the family.
The second night MPTers stayed at the house, unidentified police officers pulled up to the house, stopped, got out, and talked amongst themselves, intimidating the family.

No arrests or evictions occurred while MPT was in Sheikh Jarrah.

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