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August 5, 2009
More than 50 Palestinians evicted from Jerusalem homes

Israel evicted more than 50 Palestinians from their homes in east Jerusalem on Sunday in a move condemned by the U.S. and others. Israel says the eviction was the result of a valid legal decision.

Jen Marlowe is a filmmaker, writer and human rights activist currently traveling throughout Israel and Palestine. She visited the families who were evicted on Monday.

I heard the jangle of ankle and wrist cuffs before I saw them. The detainees (five Israeli, four Palestinian and four international) were being led into a small court room. One woman had a black eye. They had been arrested the night before at a demonstration against the eviction of the Hannoun and al-Ghawe families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of east Jerusalem. At 5:00 Sunday morning, the families were removed from their homes by Israeli police, leaving 53 people homeless — 20 of them children.

The Hannoun family with friends and supporters on the pavement across the street from their former home. Photo: Jen Marlowe

After leaving the court, I walked to Sheikh Jarrah. It was easy to locate the houses. They were blocked off and guarded by police forces. I found the father of the Hannoun family, Maher, sitting on the pavement across from his home with his family, friends and supporters. A pile of thin foam mats were stacked up behind them.

I asked Maher the details of what had taken place the previous morning.

“It was 5:00 in the morning. A lot of policemen came with weapons,” Maher told me. “My son was standing guard outside. When he saw them, he came inside and locked the door. The soldiers broke the door to the gate, the main door and the windows. They got in by force and they kicked all the family out of the house. Seventeen people.”

Was violence used against the family members? Maher nodded emphatically.

“They hurt my son Rami’s arm and they broke the bottom of my 17-year-old daughter’s teeth.”

Twenty-one-year-old Rami’s arm was in a sling. The arm was injured, he told me, when the police threw him down the front steps of the house. “They told my niece that if she didn’t open the door, they would shoot her,” Maher said.

The foam mats are piled up on the sidewalk where the Hannoun family is now sleeping. Photo: Jen Marlowe

According to Maher, after the families were forcibly removed, their furniture was hauled away and unloaded behind the police station. The family was later able to reclaim it, but they have nowhere to put it. Their furniture now sits in an empty field nearby their home.

And where did the family sleep last night?

“Here, on the street.” Maher indicated the pile of thin foam mats behind us. “We have nowhere else to go. We will stay here, God willing, until we are able to return to our homes.”

Maher’s home already has new residents. Just a few hours after the family was expelled, religious Jewish settlers moved in. The U.S. strongly condemned the evictions, as has the UN and other foreign governments. But the condemnations didn’t hamper the settlers’ ability to enter and exit the house at will, under police guard, while the Hannoun family sat across the street on the pavement and watched.

A policewoman guarding the home that settlers now occupy. Photo: Jen Marlowe

In 1956, the UN and the Jordanian government (who controlled east Jerusalem at that time) resettled 28 Palestinian refugee families, including Maher’s parents, in Sheikh Jarrah. Maher himself was born in the home in 1958.

During the 1967 war, Israel conquered and annexed east Jerusalem. The eviction of the Hannoun and al-Ghawe families seems to be part of a larger political plan to Judaize the area. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz verified the plan when they quoted from a 2004 letter from Jerusalem mayor Lupolianski to the Housing Ministry in which he supported this policy, stating: “zoning the (east Jerusalem) neighborhood for a Jewish population is likely to contribute significantly to the unification of the city.”

The plan has been ongoing. Back in 1972, two Israeli settler associations registered the land in Sheikh Jarrah with the Israeli Land registrar. The settler associations provided documents from the Ottoman era to back their claim of ownership. A complex and protracted legal battle ensued, with the Israeli court system supporting the settler associations’ claim, though the Hannoun family and their current lawyer strongly dispute the authenticity of the documents.

An Israeli settler in the home. Photo: Jen Marlowe

“The Ottoman documents are false, but even if they were real,” Maher said, “there are so many Palestinians who have proof of ownership of their homes and villages from before 1948!” I understood the point he was trying to make; Jewish claims to pre-1948 land ownership were being upheld. But Palestinian land claims were not given any legitimacy.

What do Maher and his family want?

“We are asking to stop the transfer of refugees again and again. We had big hope, especially after U.S. President Obama’s speech in Cairo. Diplomats from the U.S. and the EU visited us and promised to help us stay in our houses. All the world was watching us but nobody did anything on the ground. Our big hope turned into big disappointment. And now we are sleeping on the street.”

Just then a cheer broke out from the crowd on the sidewalk. The electricity (which the Hannoun family was still paying for) had been cut. A moment of bittersweet victory.

The settlers’ electricity will be reconnected. The imprisoned activists may have already been released. The U.S. will most likely protest in sharply-worded statements, but not use any real leverage to shift Israel’s policy of changing the demographics of east Jerusalem.

And the Hannoun and al-Ghawe families will sleep outside again tonight on the pavement across from their homes.

– Jen Marlowe

The views expressed by contributing bloggers do not reflect the views of Worldfocus or its partners.

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Comments

12 comments

#12

Thank you, Jen, for doing it. This is not “propaganda”. I know Jen well.

#11

Very moving account! Thanks again, Jen, for doing your homework and bringing both the history and the personal tragedy of individuals to light. Nothing good will come of this situation. Why can’t reasonable people work this out without ruining lives?

#10

JEWS will get their turn sometimes in the near future,like they say what goes up must come down amen.

#9

Welcome to Communism people. Thats exactly what
happened in all three baltic countries when
Stalin’s red army took them over in July1940.
By June14,1941 37,000 people were deported to
siberian concentration camps. In the evening or
early in the morning people recieved a good knock
on the door and were given 5 minutes to pick up
their belongings,to were later they were transported by train to siberia. Those items that
they left behined the newcommers(Russians) enjoyed
dearly. Russian women walking in a knigtgown down
the street thinking to themselves that it’s the
latest fashion. Now in 1991 when all three baltic
states became independent those people who wanted
to move back to their homes,could not. We were to
give Russians 10 years to resettle back in their
homelnd or wherever.
I understand your grief.

#8

If you want to know the history of the 4.5 acre parcel going all the way back to the 2nd Temple period, 150 B.C.E. read:

http://beckyjohnsononewomantalking.blogspot.com/2009/08/eviction-of-two-palestinian-families.html

“The eviction of two Arab families both legal and avoidable” by Becky Johnson

#7

the father said his son was standing guard so the palestinians had a guard so did the settlers but you say the settlers were forcing palestinians

#6

The mother rids her home of her children. The unwilling prodigal offspring wander in hopelessness, devoid of a mother’s love. This is your house, my mother, though lonely it has become.

#5

What if all the Lands belong to no one
but their Creator..
and
what if we are all (still)
only Tenants “renting” the Land?

But who is Listening to Reason
in these fine spiritual Nights
which are necessarily being lived
physically under the hot Sun of many Days…
So long as our terms of Life on this Earth
shall last?

#4

Funny and Ironic, as if the Israeli settlers who control the country, respect any laws at all, they killed a prime minster and willing to kill again and the writer from Israel mentions the courts as an evidence. On daily basis the settlers are killing Palestinians and burning their harvest and destroying their water wells. There are at least 1000 orders by the Israeli high court against the settlers and the government to give land to the Arabs, but the government does not listen and invoke the security of the country argument, thus it keeps ethically cleansing Arabs from many areas especially Hebron and Jerusalem

#3

The Arabs build on land that doesn’t belong to them then claim the Israelis stole it when the police remove them. The settlers went to courts that frequently rule in favor of Arabs with deeded evidence and won. YOu can’t ahve it both ways. This article is more propaganda about the poor Arabs..blah.blah..the land..blah blah. Cry me a river.

#2

This is inconscienable! This is one more awful thing for Israel to do. In this, Israel has become what it hates ~ it has become The Oppressor.

#1

srael is at its best, ethnic cleansing after ethnic cleansing and then cry wolf that Iran is to wipe Israel out. They have wiped the Palestinians out in the last 61 years, but nobody opens his mouth. The New York times still writes myths like yesterday that the settlements are not the issue and Martin Savadge busy interviewing former Israeli officials like Daniel Levy, the mayors of Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem to talk about Israeli so called democracy. And Wolf Blitzer and Israeli citizen, hardly mentions anything about that and indeed Bill O’rally did not hear about any of the above. Where on earth are people evicted from there homes based on their religion and their ethnicity except in Israel and few rouge states. The Irony is, that the Jews asked for a state 100 years ago because of these issues. They were complaining that the Russians and the Europeans were taking their homes because they were Jews. But now they are doing it to others. I hope that Americans who are financing settlements stop doing so, as soon as possible , and conscious Jews begin talking about this from a moral stand point.

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