The Orient House





2 November 2001


Israeli settlers take over another Palestinian home in Sheikh Jarrah


Yesterday night, 1 November 2001, a group of Israeli settlers entered and occupied the house of Mohammad Al-Kurd in the Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem.


During the settlers' incursion into his house, Mohammad Al-Kurd, who suffers from diabetes, was undergoing surgery at a nearby hospital. Under the pretext of "illegal extension", the settlers moved into the house declaring that they had a permit issued by an Israeli court claiming that the land belongs to their settlement movement and that any extension of located dwelling units is illegal. However, Al Hijazi family has a document, which is unequivocally proving their ownership of the land. In 1990, an Israeli court decided that the land is Jewish, but the Palestinian inhabitants would be protected from removal as long as they paid an adequate rent to the settler organizations. Subsequently, an appeal issued by the Al Hijazi family against the court ruling that the ownership of the land was Jewish had been rejected. The land of the Al Hijazi family covers 17 dunums providing housing for 27 Palestinian families. Four houses located on the Al Hijazi land have already been taken over by Israeli settlers.


The Israeli settlers claim that the land on which Mohammad Al-Kurd's House is built has been under Jewish ownership since 1855 and is considered a holy site. On the land currently disputed, the Jordanian government built houses for Palestinian refugees, among them the Al Kurd family, in 1954. In 1970, the Israeli Guardian of Absentees' Property transferred the apparent ownership of the house to the Sefardeem and Knesset Israel settler movements. Member of Knesset Benny Elon has played a leading role in supporting and enhancing the above-mentioned Israeli settlers' actions.


The current Israeli government under Ariel Sharon has systematically upgraded its policies of disrupting any Palestinian dwelling contiguity in East Jerusalem by extending existing Israeli settlements and demolishing as well as occupying Palestinian homes. Israeli attempts to prove that Israeli settlers legally own land in East Jerusalem seem extremely questionable as opposed to the well recorded and according to international legitimacy unequivocally proven fact of vast amount of Palestinian property in West Jerusalem. Due to the illegal Israeli occupation of the Orient House as well as the closure of vital socio-economic Palestinian institutions, assistance to the Palestinian civilian population in East Jerusalem is virtually non-existent, exposing an increasing number of Palestinian inhabitants to a higher level of Israeli violations. The Orient House calls upon the international community to stand by its international obligations and protect the occupied civilian population from continuing Israeli violations. By implementing Ariel Sharon's long-term policy of increasing Israeli settlements in the heart of East Jerusalem, the Israeli government illustrates its unwillingness to come to a final settlement of Jerusalem respecting the interests of both parties.



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