Sheikh Jarrah protests (R) 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
A number of Jewish activists with the right-wing Israel Land Fund will move into
a house in the Beit Hanina area of Jerusalem in the coming days, as the first
step toward creating a new Jewish complex of 50 apartments in the predominantly
According to Israel Land Fund director Aryeh King, a
Jewish buyer 35 years ago purchased two buildings, each with two
The properties also belonged to Jewish residents prior to
1948, he said.
An eight-year court battle with the current residents
recently concluded with the court’s decision to award ownership of the house to
the Jewish buyer. The family in one of the buildings heeded the court decision
and evacuated, per King’s promise to waive the NIS 250,000 debt the court
awarded to the Israel Land Fund for damages resulting from the court
The second family, headed by Khaled Suliman Natche, is refusing to
Natche said police have been harassing him nonstop since Thursday
in a fear campaign to get him to leave the building. Police accused him of
having weapons and drugs in the house, a claim he denies.
“Even if [King]
gave me a million shekels I wouldn’t give him the keys,” said Natche. “I’m not
going to leave, I will die here. Whatever they want to do, they can do. Whatever
they want, I’m not leaving the house. If they kill me, they kill me,” he
Natche added that because land transactions in his neighborhood
between Arabs are generally not filed with the municipality, they could not
prove their ownership of part of the land.
King said the residents were
aware of his work in the neighborhood for years and that the eminent entrance of
Jewish residents did not come as a surprise. The two buildings sit on
approximately six dunams of land (1.5 acres) in the Hashakrir neighborhood of
Beit Hanina, which is located close to the light rail.
The Israel Land
Fund head hopes to build a new Jewish neighborhood called “Nof Shmuel,” or View
of Samuel, on the land with 50 apartments.
The name refers to the tomb of
the Prophet Samuel north of Ramot, which is visible from the
In response, a number of left-wing activists have taken up
guard shifts in the Natche family’s home to prevent the eviction, which could
happen in the coming days.
“This is a totally new settlement,” said
activist Michael Salisbury-Corech, who compared the story to the controversial
evictions of three Arab families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in the summer
of 2009. “If there will be an eviction we’ll continue to demonstrate there like
we demonstrated at Sheikh Jarrah,” he said.
The Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity
Movement, which was born out of that struggle, organized weekly protests in the
neighborhood for over a year.
Salisbury-Corech pointed out that the
planned complex in Beit Hanina is disconnected from any other Jewish
neighborhood, effectively creating a new Jewish presence in a historically Arab
“We won’t let it happen,” he vowed. “We won’t let the settler
organizations endanger the future of our children. We want peace for our
Salisbury-Corech said that according to the organization,
“they’ll go house by house in order to have Jewish control over Jerusalem. [In]
any other place this would be racist, but in Israel it’s done according to the
City Councilor David Hadari (Habayit Hayehudi), who holds the
Financial Portfolio and has been active in the fight against illegal Arab
construction in east Jerusalem, welcomed the plans for the new
“Jews can live in every place, especially when they do it
on land that belongs to them and according to the law,” he said, adding that the
condemnations of left-wing activists did not faze him.
“The city of
Jerusalem needs to remember that every government talks about a united
Jerusalem, that means that Jews can build in every place, and we’ll continue to
build through the entire city.”