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Israel Evicts al-Kurd Family from Home in East Jerusalem

Written by Alternative Information Center (AIC)

Sunday, 09 November 2008

The home in of the al-Kurd family in Sheikh Jarrah. The door on right is the al-Kurd family, the door on left is where the settlers have taken over and live.











At 3:30 this morning (9 November), Israeli police evicted the al-Kurd family from their home in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem, and arrested eight international solidarity activists. The activists, from Europe and North America, were in a protest camp established on the al-Kurd family property. The eight internationals are currently being held in Israeli custody in Jerusalem.

The entire area of Sheikh Jarrah was closed off this morning, surrounded by Israeli military and police.

Since the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the eviction of the al-Kurd family in July of this year, the family has been struggling against their eviction. The al-Kurd family—an elderly man and his wife, their five children and families—is the first family in the Sheik Jarrah area to receive an eviction notice from Israel. Since July the international community has expressed objections to the eviction, including a formal protest from the United States government.

The Sheik Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem was built by the UN and the Jordanian government in 1956, to house Palestinians refugees from the 1948 war. A part of the agreement between UN and the Jordanian government was that three years after building the housing units (i.e. November, 1959) the estate will become owned by the family living in it.

The al-Kurd family moved to the area in 1956, after they had fled from Jaffa and West Jerusalem.

After the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem began in 1967, settlers started to claim that the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood belongs to them, claiming they had purchased the land from a previous Ottoman owner in the 1800s. In 1972, the settlers registered this claim with the Israeli Land Registrar.

When the al-Kurd family decided in 1999 to build an extension to their house, in order to make it more comfortable for the elder of the family, the Israeli court declared this construction illegal and fined the family. Afterwards settlers occupied this new extension, which measured approximately 80 square meters. Even though the settlers’ claim of the land had been revoked by the Israeli courts in 2006, the Jerusalem municipality confiscated the key to the extension from the al-Kurd family and gave it to the Israeli settlers

When the al-Kurd family received the eviction order in July 2008, it was for their refusal to pay rent to the settlers for use of the land.

The eviction of the al-Kurd family paves the way for the confiscation by Israel and Israeli settlers of 26 multi-story houses in the Sheik Jarrah neighborhood, thus threatening to render some 500 Palestinians homeless. By destroying the neighborhood, it would be possible to build 200 apartments for settlers in the area, and create a ring of Jewish settlements around Jerusalem’s Old City.