Evictee to 'Post': We have nowhere else to go, so of course we'll stay and fight; police arrest 2 people.
By ABE SELIG
Not much has changed since Maher Hanoun and his family were evicted from their home in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah last week, but the 51-year-old father of three continues to hold a 24-hour-a-day vigil across the street from his previous home, and said Sunday he would keep fighting to get it back.
"We have nowhere else to go, so of course we'll stay and fight," Hanoun told The Jerusalem Post. "Our hope now is that the international pressure we saw last week will be turned into something substantial on the ground. Outside of that, we don't know what to expect, but we believe the situation could change at any moment."
In the meantime however, Hanoun said, tensions in the neighborhood were running high.
"Every morning, the settlers come out of my house, walk right by me on the street and throw their garbage into the dumpster," he said on Sunday. "Sometimes they [flip us off], and last week one of them spit on my wife."
Hours after Hanoun spoke to the Post, MKs Ya'acov Katz and Uri Ariel (National Union), came to visit a Jewish family who had moved into the home of the Gawhi family, who were also evicted last week, sparking clashes between protesters and police.
Stones were hurled at the home during the clashes and two people were arrested. Katz and Ariel left soon after the scuffles concluded.
But supporters at Hanoun's vigil on Sunday said scuffles near the Gawhi home happened on a near-daily basis.
"There has been a lot violence down there," said Omar Siam, Hanoun's nephew, who is also a resident of Sheikh Jarrah. "An old lady was watering her plants there last week, and the settlers thought she was putting water into their house, so they came outside and pushed her down. At that point, all of the Palestinians who were outside rushed in, and a fight broke out."
Near the Hanouns' vigil, both Siam and Hanoun said, things have been quieter.
"They don't bother us as much, and when they do, we try to restrain ourselves," Siam said. "We know they are trying to provoke a response, so we don't give it to them."
Hanoun also said Sunday that he had drafted a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who called last week's evictions "provocative" and a violation of Israeli commitments, and said he planned on delivering it to the US Consulate first thing Monday.
"We are very grateful to you for the statements you have made and the action you and your representatives have taken since our eviction a week ago," the letter states. "However, a week on, we continue to suffer, particularly the women and children."
The letter goes on to ask Clinton to put pressure on the Israeli government to return the evicted families to their homes.
"We believe that more evictions are planned and we are convinced that these, together with the past evictions, are fatally undermining your peace efforts," the letter reads. "The changing of facts on the ground are alienating many Palestinians who are losing faith in the peace process."
As for the Jews who moved into Hanoun's home, neither they, nor the group supporting them, Nahalat Shimon International, have made themselves available for comment.
Siam said he believed the women and children inside the house had since been replaced with men.
"I think there are about 10 men in there now," Siam said on Sunday.
On Sunday afternoon, two youths who could be seen through the fencing that covers the home's front patio refused to speak with the Post.
"No, we don't have anything to say," one of them said. "Just leave it alone man, leave it alone."
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