Court refuses to issue restraining order against evicted Sheikh Jarrah Arabs

Arab families warned to refrain from violent behavior.

sheikh jarrah house 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
sheikh jarrah house 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
A Jerusalem District Court rejected on Thursday a request by Jewish families who have taken possession of homes in east Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood by court order to issue a restraining order against the Arab families who were evicted from those homes. However, Judge Eilata Diskind issued a warning to the Arab families to refrain from violent behavior. The petition for the restraining order, which was made by the Nahalat Shimon International organization, asked that nine people - three members of the Hanoun family and six members of the Gawhi family - be prohibited from congregating outside the homes. It was rejected by Diskind, who said there was insufficient evidence to prove the plaintiffs' claims that members of the families had thrown rocks at the homes and harassed the new occupants. The judge did issue a warning to the defendants to refrain from such behavior in the future. Both the Hanoun and Gawhi families have set up makeshift protests across the street from their former homes to protest what they have called the "ethnic cleansing" of Palestinian residents from the neighborhood. In their testimony, the Jewish plaintiffs said the defendants yell, "Your grave will be here" and other curses every time they pass in front of the building. "They have nothing to do there but bother us," said Yitzhak Mamo, one of the plaintiffs. "What are they doing there, playing backgammon?" The plaintiffs' lawyer, Ilan Shemer, cross-examined each of the respondents after the judge finished asking questions, and asked one of them, Khaled al-Gawhi, why he and his family continued to live on the sidewalk, if their intention was not to bother the new residents. "I want to show the whole world what kind of law they have in this country," Gahwi responded. Gawhi also claimed that the Jewish families had thrown rocks at him, including one which came from the upper floors of the building and landed meters from a five-month-old baby. Two of the other respondents, Majed and Salim Hanoun, refused to answer questions without their lawyers present. The respondents complained that the court summons had been far too hasty, arriving an hour before the proceedings were to begin, and hardly giving them enough time to contact their lawyers. "I called someone to come translate [the court summons] for me, and then it took us 30 minutes to get here," Maher Hanoun told The Jerusalem Post. Hanoun and Gawhi's lawyers, who said they didn't know about the hearing until almost an hour after it was set to begin, arrived just as the judge was reading her decision. Nonetheless, both families seemed somewhat relieved after the decision was read, and were seen moments later preparing to return to their ongoing protest vigils in Sheikh Jarrah. While the Jewish plaintiffs declined to comment on the verdict, Khaled al-Gahwi told the Post simply, "They didn't get their request, that's it, it's over."