International Solidarity Movement
18th April 2010
The Al-Kurds continued to reclaim what remains of their Sheikh Jarrah home today with an art project. Three graffiti artists from Palestine, Israel and the UK joined Sheikh Jarrah residents and activists for a day of garden beautification. The artists met with residents in the morning while activists prepped the walls for painting. “Sheikh Jarrah” was sprayed in both Arabic and English with an Al-Aqsa style mosque between the two. The Gawi children, evicted from their homes in August 2009, assisted with the creation. Neighborhood kids also made stencils to decorate the doors, walls and pathways of the yard.
Settlers were present in large numbers, upwards of 15 at times, throughout the day. They sat in front of the occupied Al-Kurd home watching as over 40 residents, Israeli and international activists filled the yard to support the evicted families of Sheikh Jarrah. Police also had a heavy presence. Artists were blocked from painting on the western wall of the yard, shared by a Palestinian neighbor who recently received eviction papers because the wall. Painting was only permitted on the eastern wall of the yard. At one point during the day, police blocked access to the yard to everyone except Yoni, a leader of the settlers.
A legal battle will ensue shortly regarding the ownership of the yard. Settlers claim that it is communal property thus they have the right to access the playground toys recently installed by the Palestinian Authority and the right to paint the walls. One settler remarked how glad he was that we were painting the walls white, as it prepares it for the Israeli flag. Sheikh Jarrah residents and activist supporters insist that the court gave the settlers the Al-Kurd home and just the home. The legal basis for the home being transferred to settlers is that it lacks the proper permits. The yard and walls however, do not require permits and were never deemed illegal, thus logic would state that these parts of the property should not be transferred to the settlers.
Settlers continued in their attempted provocation of residents and activists throughout the night despite even attempts by the military to calm them down.
The Al-Kurd yard has received a makeover in the past month, going from a graveyard of their former life to a playground with olive and fruit tree landscape. The landscaping was completed by Palestinian youth from around occupied East Jerusalem; the playground was funded by the Palestinian Authority and installed by representatives from the government and residents; today’s artwork was organized by the dedicated Israeli activists in Sheikh Jarrah.