UPDATE: The two internationals have been released from the Israeli police station without charge.
The tent was eventually taken down by the residents of Sheikh Jarrah, though it has now been rebuilt. The bulldozer, after threatening to demolish the tent, instead built a small rock wall inside the Palestinian property. The purpose of this wall is as yet unclear.
Israeli forces are now demolishing the protest tent established in Sheikh Jarrah, Occupied East Jerusalem established on Palestinian private property in support of the evicted al-Kurd family and the 18 Palestinian families who currently face eviction from the neighbourhood.
Two international solidarity activists, one Danish and one Swedish, who had been sleeping in the tent have been taken from the protest camp by Israeli police. They were woken at 8:30am by dozens of Israeli police before being detained and their phones confiscated. They were then taken to an Israeli police station. One Palestinian resident of Sheikh Jarrah was also detained by Israeli police, but was subsequently been released.
An Israeli bulldozer is currently at the site and is due to start the demolition of the camp.
The protest camp was established by the Sheikh Jarrah Neighbourhood Committee following the violent eviction of the al-Kurd family on the 9th November initially to show support for the evicted family and the 500 other Palestinians who are under threat of eviction from the neighbourhood. It has been demolished twice already by Israeli authorities despite being situated on private Palestinian property.
The camp has been used as a cultural centre for the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, regularly screening films, holding traditional Palestinian dancing and showing Palestinian photo exhibitions. The latest demolition of the tent can be viewed as another effort by Israel to react against displays of Palestinian national identity within Occupied East Jerusalem.
The house had become emblematic of the plight of Palestinian residents of Occupied East Jerusalem. The al-Kurd family were previously made refugees from Jaffa and West Jerusalem. They were then made refugees for the second time as they were evicted from their home of 52 years.
A previous protest tent had been active throughout the Summer on the al-Kurd property, as widespread international condemnation of Israeli policy against the family and neighbourhood grew, including an official complaint from the US State Department (see below).
Abu Kamel al-Kurd was immediately rushed to hospital following the family’s violent early morning eviction with high-blood pressure. He was re-admitted to hospital two weeks later where he died of a heart attack homeless.
The decision to remove the al-Kurd family paves the way for the takeover of 26 multi-story houses in the neighborhood, 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 (click here)
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.