28 October 2009
On Wednesday 28 October, around 50 armed police and border police cordoned off a road in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem and, as ordered by the Jerusalem Municipality, demolished a tent, where the Gawi family has been living since they were forcibly evicted from their home on 2 August 2009. The destruction occurred despite the presence of a delegation of members of the European Parliament led by Vice President Luisa Morgantini.
At 10.15am, the Israeli forces surrounded the tent where a member of the Gawi family was preparing breakfast holding her two year old daughter. Supported by only a few people who were present in the area at this time, she tried to gather at least some of the family’s belongings and verbally protested the violent destruction of their only shelter as the police tore the tent down and confiscated everything that was left. A few mattresses and bedding were thrown in a pile on the pavement, while the tent and other belongings were loaded on a truck. Within minutes, after the police left, the family with the help from the neighbours erected another tent, providing at least minimum shelter for them.
By the time the Israeli forces completed the demolishion, a group of about 80 activists, journalists and Palestinians arrived, along with a group of UN workers and members of the European Parliament, to express solidarity witht the evicted family. The Israeli police returned and issued a warning over the loudspeaker that anyone who doesn’t leave the area within five minutes will be arrested. They then ripped down the newly erected marquee, loaded it on a truck and left.
At the end the members of the Gawi family thanked friends and supporters for their solidarity and called on all human beings to stand with them in their resistance. The Gawi family, together with the Hannoun family, who are also living on the street nearby after they were evicted from their home, have vowed to continue their struggle to regain their houses from the Israeli settlers and intend to erect another tent whilst they continue to sleep opposite their home and in full sight of the illegal settlers who often abuse and harass them.
The Gawi and Hannoun families, consisting of 53 members including 20 children, have been left homeless after they were forcibly evicted from their houses on 2 August 2009. The Israeli forces surrounded the homes of the two families at 5.30am and, breaking in through the windows, forcefully dragged all residents into the street. The police also demolished the neighbourhood’s protest tent, set up by Um Kamel, following the forced eviction of her family in November 2008.
At present, all three houses are occupied by settlers and the whole area is patrolled by armed private settler security 24 hours a day. Both Hannoun and Gawi families, who have been left without suitable alternative accommodation since August, continue to protest against the unlawful eviction from the sidewalk across the street from their homes, facing regular attacks from the settlers and harassment from the police.
The Karm Al-Ja’ouni neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah is home to 28 Palestinian families, all refugees from 1948, who received their houses from the UNRWA and Jordanian government in 1956. All face losing their homes in the manner of the Hannoun, Gawi and al-Kurd families.
The aim of the settlers is to turn the whole area into a new Jewish settlement and to create a Jewish continuum that will effectively cut off the Old City form the northern Palestinian neighborhoods. Implanting new Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank is illegal under many international laws, including Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
The plight of the Gawi, al-Kurd and the Hannoun families isjust a small part of Israel’s ongoing campaign of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people from East Jerusalem.