For immediate release
Imprisoned American citizen and Michigan resident Ahlam Mohsen to be deported to the US after being arrested in a Palestinian home taken over by Israeli settlers in Occupied East Jerusalem.
Ahlam was a guest of the al-Kurd family when on the morning of 3 November 2009 Israeli settlers burst in and seized part of the building. Contrary to eyewitness accounts, the police claim the 21-year-old attacked them.
From the Givon prison in Ramle where Ms. Mohsen is currently awaiting deportation she reported that:
“The Israeli police were violently pushing an elderly Palestinian woman. So I stepped in front of them. They told me to move and when I refused they started forcefully pushing me. Then they grabbed me and carried me into a police van. While I was waiting at the Israeli Ministry of Interior, the police officers kept telling each other that I was a ‘dirty Arab’ and introducing me as ‘Osama Bin Laden’s sister’. One of them, threatened to ‘break my head’. None of the other non-violent demonstrators were targeted; the way they treated me, it’s obvious that I was arrested because I’m of Arab descent.”
The 40 settlers, accompanied by private armed security and Israeli police forces, entered a section of the home, threw out the family’s belongings and locked themselves in.
The takeover came after an appeal submitted by the family’s lawyer was rejected by the District Court. In their appeal, the Palestinian family was challenging an earlier court decision that deemed a section of the house illegal and ordered that the keys be given to settlers. The settlers proceeded to enter the house, while the court did not grant them the right to enter the property.
The al-Kurd home was built in 1956. An addition to the house was built 10 years ago, but the family was not allowed to inhabit the section because the municipality refused to grant them a building permit. Visibly unequal laws are used to make it possible for settlers to move into a home where it was declared illegal for Palestinian residents to inhabit. The Israeli authorities exercise their abilities to demolish and evict Palestinian residents, while ignoring building violations from the Israeli population in East Jerusalem.
The al-Kurds have become the fourth Sheikh Jarrah family whose house has been occupied by settlers in the last year. So far, 60 people have been left homeless. In total, 28 families living in the Karm Al-Ja’ouni neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, located directly north of the Old City, face imminent eviction from their homes.