11:45am, Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem: One Palestinian and four internationals were today taken into Israeli police custody from a protest tent of a Palestinian family evicted from their home in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem. The protest tent, that was established following the eviction of the Al-Kurd family on the 9th November 2008 has been demolished by Israeli forces despite being situated on Palestinian private property.
As of 1:45pm, the family has decided to re-establish the protest tent and are in the process of re-construction.
At 2pm the internationals were released without charge. However the Palestinian resident of Sheikh Jarrah is still being held.
The Palestinian resident of Sheikh Jarrah and the international solidarity activists, two from Denmark, one from Britain and one from Sweden, were taken to the Russian compound.
At mid-day dozens of Israeli police and soldiers arrived at the tent before ordering its evacuation. When the international activists refused to vacate the tent due to it being situated on private Palestinian property, they were forcibly removed from the tent and taken into police custody. One Palestinian, a resident of Sheikh Jarrah, was also taken into custody after he attempted to reach the tent as it was being demolished.
The decision to remove the al-Kurd family paves the way for the takeover of 26 multi-storey houses in the neighbourhood, threatening to make 500 Palestinians homeless and signifying the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Occupied East Jerusalem by the Israeli State. In July the US State Department brought forward an official complaint to the Israeli government over the eviction of the al-Kurd family, openly questioning the legality of terms on which the Israeli Jewish settler group claimed to have purchased the land. (see www.haaretz.co.il/hasen/spages/1005342.html).
The Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem was built by the UN and Jordanian government in 1956 to house Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war. The al-Kurd family began living in the neighbourhood after having been made refugees from Jaffa and West Jerusalem. However, with the the start of the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, following the 1967 war, settlers began claiming ownership of the land the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood was build on.
Stating that they had purchased the land from a previous Ottoman owner in the 1800s, settlers claimed ownership of the land. In 1972 settlers successfully registered this claim with the Israeli Land Registrar. While the al-Kurds family continued legal proceedings challenging the settlers claim, the settlers started filing suits against the Palestinian family.
In 2006, the court ruled the settlers claim void, recognizing it was based on fraudulent documents. Subsequently, the Al-Kurd family lawyer petitioned the Israeli Land Registrar to revoke the settlers registration of the land and state the correct owner of the land. Although it did revoke the settlers claim, the Israeli land Registrar refused to indicate the rightful owner of the land.
In 2001 settlers began occupying an extension of the al-Kurd home. Despite the fact that their claim to the land was revoked, settlers were given the keys of the al-Kurds family home extension by the local Israeli municipality. This was possible after the municipality had confiscated the keys of the extension that the al-Kurd family built on their property to house the natural expansion of the family. When this extension was declared illegal by Israeli authorities, the Israeli municipality handed the keys over to Israeli settlers. The al-Kurd Family went to court and an eviction order was issued against the settlers. When the al-Kurd family were evicted on the 9th November 2008, the settlers were allowed to remain in the property, despite their own eviction order.
In July 2008 the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the eviction of the al-Kurd family, for their refusal to pay rent to the settlers for use of the land. Although the settlers claim to the land had been revoked two years earlier, the court instead based their decision on an agreement made between a previous lawyer and the settlers. It should be noted that the al-Kurd family -and the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood as a whole- rejected this agreement and fired their legal representative at the time.