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Settlers attack Palestinian family in Sheikh Jarrah, injure seven

20 October 2009

The settlers who have recently occupied the house of the Gawi family, forcefully evicted from their home in Sheikh Jarrah on 2 August 2009, launched an attack today on the Palestinians camping outside. According to local sources, seven Palestinians were injured and four arrested.

The attack started between 8 and 8.30pm, when a driver of a lorry delivering furniture to the occupied house, accompanied by four settlers, attacked a five year old boy from the Gawi family who was playing nearby. The settlers then attacked a small tent where the Gawi family have been living since the eviction. The tent was full of mainly women and children at that time. A Palestinian woman who was hit hard by the driver had to be taken to hospital. A fight broke out immediately, involving at least 15 settlers. Several members of the family sustained light injuries and a 15-year old girl from the neighbourhood was hit by a falling TV as the settlers managed to tear down the tent.

When police arrived, they made no attempts to stop the settlers attacking the family and later arrested four Palestinians. Two were released and another two, Khalet Gawi and Saleh Diab have been taken to hospital and told to come back to the police station tomorrow for further questioning. Four settlers were taken for questioning and released immediately.

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.