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East Jerusalem's growing tent city

by shergald Fri Nov 13th, 2009 at 09:32:02 AM EST

(On Monday 13th of July Scandinavian activists showed their solidarity with the Palestinians in East Jerusalem facing eviction or demolition of their houses by putting up 6 tents in front of the Israeli embassy in Copenhagen.)

The Other Israel, issue 143-144, published in November, 2009, tells this story about the growing tent city in East Jerusalem, which has resulted from Israel's continuing ethnic cleansing of its Palestinian inhabitants.

(A Jerusalem municipality spokesman said the affected houses and structures were in the neighbourhoods of Shuafat, Zur Baher, Silwan and Jabel Mukabar. "All the houses were demolished in accordance with a court order.")

"Unhelpful" was the term Hillary Clinton used to describe the house demolitions and evictions that have been occurring in East Jerusalem. Since then the Obama administration pulled out of the peace negotiations due to Israel's intransigence on the matter of settlement expansion, enabling the further colonization of the Palestinian territories including East Jerusalem, where it seems to proceed one house at a time.

The result has been a growing tent city of dispossessed Palestinians.

Jarrah's growing tent city is the title of this update.

Over the past year, a thousand Palestinian inhabitants of East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah Neighbourhood have become the target of an ongoing process of eviction and dispossession. A group of settlers sponsored by the notorious Irwing Moskowitz wants all of them to make place for a Jews-only compound that they intend to build around an ancient tomb attributed to Shimon Hatzadik (Simon the Righteous), a sage of the Third Century B.C.

After a decades-long judicial battle, Israeli courts declared the settler association to be the legal owner on the basis of an obscure Ottoman land deed from before 1887 -- especially infuriating as Palestinian ownership of West Jerusalem houses left behind in 1948 have been declared null and void. Judges persist in regarding the issue as a simple civil case of "tenants refusing to pay rent to the owner", issuing eviction orders for house after house at the settlers' request, and refusing to discuss any wider issues.

(Um Kamel and her terminally-ill husband were evicted from their home one day in mid-November, when he was on his death-bed. He died a week and a half later. She has continued to live in this tent.)

A year ago the Al-Kurd family were the first to be thrown out of their Sheikh Jarrah house. The eviction by a 500-strong police force of an aged couple was blood curdling. Muhammad Al-Kurd had a heart attack during the brutal eviction, and died a few days later. The tent where his widow 'Oum Kamel' lived in front of what was her home was repeatedly torn down by the Jerusalem municipality -- and put up again. (As a protest, the tent was sometimes put up in front of the family's pre-48 West-Jerusalem home.)

Since then, however, about sixty of Oum Kamel's neighbours have joined her, living in an ever-growing tent city, and the streets of what had been a quiet middle class neighbourhood have become a place of tensions and violent clashes, patrolled day and night by grim-faced security guards armed with sub-machine guns. Israeli and international activists arrive daily to express solidarity, and larger protest events are called every few weeks. There are conventional demonstrations as well as unconventional events such as street parties, dancing on the street and music (both Arab and Western) well heard within the settler-occupied houses.

LINK to full article

"Unhelpful" indeed, as the Obama government stands aside.


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