Yesterday, we spent the day visiting with one of the evicted families in Sheikh Jarrah, today circumstances have changed as can be seen in the report and video below……

Nasser Gawi expelled from Sheikh Jarrah – settler detained, weapon seized

Settler attacks young boy in Sheikh Jarrah.Settler attacks young boy in Sheikh Jarrah.

Nasser Gawi and one settler have been expelled from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah for 15 days after the settler attacked local residents and threatened them with an M-16.

At 7PM on Sunday night a settler occupying the Palestinian Gawi family house in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah fought neighborhood residents and threatened them with an M-16 automatic rifle.

The settler first threw rocks at the tent the Gawi family has stayed in since being evicted, provoking angry shouts from the family. When the settler descended to the street, he physically attached a neighborhood boy, shaking and pushing him. Other adults stepped in and the settler began pushing and eventually punched Nasser Gawi. Numerous blows were exchanged before the settler began wildly waving his M-16 rifle, he then cocked the gun and pointed it at neighborhood residents and internationals who were present.

The incident ended when the police arrived and after a few minutes siezed the settler’s gun. Though both Nasser Gawi and the settler were barred from returning to the neighborhood for 15 days, the settler returned to pick up personal belongings.

After his family was expelled in 1948 from what is now the state of Israel, the Gawi family was relocated to a refugee camp in East Jerusalem. The UN and Jordan allowed them to trade their food aid for permanent residence in houses in Sheikh Jarrah. After building a life in East Jerusalem the family was forcefully evicted from their house on 9 August 2009 and took residence in a tent outside their house. Now, after being attacked and threatened by a settler with a gun, Nasser Gawi has been expelled again from his living space yet again.

Read Maan post about the incident.

Background on Sheikh Jarrah

Approximately 475 Palestinian residents living in the Karm Al-Ja’ouni neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, located directly north of the Old City, face imminent eviction from their homes in the manner of the Hannoun and Gawi families, and the al-Kurd family before them. All 28 families are refugees from 1948, mostly from West Jerusalem and Haifa, whose houses in Sheikh Jarrah were built and given to them through a joint project between the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and the Jordanian government in 1956.

So far, settlers took over houses of four Palestinian families, displacing around 60 residents, including 20 children. At present, settlers occupy all these houses and the whole area is patrolled by armed private security 24 hours a day. The evicted Palestinian families, some of whom have been left without suitable alternative accommodation since August, continue to protest against the unlawful eviction from the sidewalk across the street from their homes, facing regular violent attacks from the settlers and harassment from the police.

The Gawi family, for example, had their only shelter, a small tent built near their house, destroyed by the police and all their belongings stolen five times. In addition, the al-Kurd family has been forced to live in an extremely difficult situation, sharing the entrance gate and the backyard of their house with extremist settlers, who occupied a part of the al-Kurd home in December 2009. The settlers subject the Palestinian family to regular violent attacks and harassment, making their life a living hell.

The ultimate goal of the settler organizations is to evict all Palestinians from the area and turn it into a new Jewish settlement and to create a Jewish continuum that will effectively cut off the Old City form the northern Palestinian neighborhoods. On 28 August 2008, Nahalat Shimon International filed a plan to build a series of five and six-story apartment blocks – Town Plan Scheme (TPS) 12705 – in the Jerusalem Local Planning Commission. If TPS 12705 comes to pass, the existing Palestinian houses in this key area would be demolished, about 500 Palestinians would be evicted, and 200 new settler units would be built for a new settlement: Shimon HaTzadik.

Implanting new Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank is illegal under many international laws, including Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The plight of the Gawi, al-Kurd and the Hannoun families is just a small part of Israel’s ongoing campaign of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people from East Jerusalem.

Legal background

The eviction orders, issued by Israeli courts, are a result of claims made in 1967 by the Sephardic Community Committee and the Knesseth Yisrael Association (who since sold their claim to the area to Nahalat Shimon) – settler organizations whose aim is to take over the whole area using falsified deeds for the land dating back to 1875. In 1972, these two settler organizations applied to have the land registered in their names with the Israel Lands Administration (ILA). Their claim to ownership was noted in the Land Registry; however, it was never made into an official registry of title. The first Palestinian property in the area was taken over at this time.

The case continued in the courts for another 37 years. Amongst other developments, the first lawyer of the Palestinian residents reached an agreement with the settler organizations in 1982 (without the knowledge or consent of the Palestinian families) in which he recognized the settlers’ ownership in return for granting the families the legal status of protected tenants. This affected 23 families and served as a basis for future court and eviction orders (including the al-Kurd family house take-over in December 2009), despite the immediate appeal filed by the families’ new lawyer. Furthermore, a Palestinian landowner, Suleiman Darwish Hijazi, has legally challenged the settlers’ claims. In 1994 he presented documents certifying his ownership of the land to the courts, including tax receipts from 1927. In addition, the new lawyer of the Palestinian residents located a document, proving the land in Sheikh Jarrah had never been under Jewish ownership. The Israeli courts rejected these documents.

The first eviction orders were issued in 1999 based on the (still disputed) agreement from 1982 and, as a result, two Palestinian families (Hannoun and Gawi) were evicted in February 2002. After the 2006 Israeli Supreme Court finding that the settler committees’ ownership of the lands was uncertain, and the Lands Settlement officer of the court requesting that the ILA remove their names from the Lands Registrar, the Palestinian families returned back to their homes. The courts, however, failed to recognize new evidence presented to them and continued to issue eviction orders based on decisions from 1982 and 1999 respectively. Further evictions followed in November 2008 (Kamel al-Kurd family) and August 2009 (Hannoun and Gawi families for the second time). An uninhabited section of a house belonging to the al-Kurd family was taken over by settlers on 1 December 2009.

After verbal taunting, a settler in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah left the Gawi house which he and other settlers have occupied since August 2009. He descended the stairs with an M-16 and pushed a teenage boy. When neighborhood adults stepped in to protect the teenager, he pushed Nasser Gawi and then punched him. Seconds later the settler cocked his M-16 and pointed it wildly at the crowd that had gathered. In this video you can clearly see the first punch thrown by the settler and clearly hear the cock of his gun.



  1. WOLF said,

    February 2, 2010 at 00:36

    Ten plagues inflicted on East Jerusalem
    The disturbances in East Jerusalem are unlikely to surprise anyone following the situation in the city, and anyone who is attentive to the voices emanating from it. Claims that a small group of inciters seeking political profit is behind the disturbances prove that people supporting such claims know next to nothing about the true situation on the ground. If they were acquainted with events unfolding in the city’s backyard, they would know that the eruption was predictable – and only its time was unknown.

    Much has changed in East Jerusalem over the past decade – to the point of becoming intolerable. When Teddy Kollek was Jerusalem’s mayor, its Arab citizens were disadvantaged, but their honor was scrupulously defended. They felt that at least they received civilized treatment. Recently though, several moves have made their lives unbearable and- the most difficult to bear- they feel their honor is being trodden underfoot. Ten plagues are being inflicted on East Jerusalem’s Arab citizens, and they cannot be ranked by gravity.

    The first plague: the option of lawfully building a home has become almost impossible. Here, the difficulties have been accumulating for years: proving ownership, the absence of infrastructures, low building percentages, the reduction of areas permitted for construction – all of these have worsened due to the migration of scores of families across the separation fence into the `right side`, risking the loss of their blue (Israeli) identity cards.

    The second plague: the separation fence – has not only created a wave of internal migration, but has cut the migrants off from their families, relatives, and loved ones. Matters have become highly complicated and a family visit which in the past entailed a short journey of minutes has become a `journey into the unknown`, in which no one can guess how long it will take to reach the destination, or to return from it. Everything depends on the mood of the soldier standing at the checkpoint.

    The third plague: in tandem, the Interior Ministry has intensified the campaign of confiscating identity cards from people whom it maintains are living beyond the municipal borders. Many find that one day their citizenship status has been revoked without their knowledge, and they must retain a lawyer’s services to get it back.

    The fourth plague – the Interior Ministry continues to prevent East Jerusalem residents from uniting with their families or spouses and are forced to live in the town without permits, almost in an underground, out of fear of being arrested by the police.

    The fifth plague: the settlers are completely unrestrained in their attempts to take over every spot of land in the city`s eastern half. Their irritation has intensified with the rumors and headlines about a political process that is taking shape. Very recently, without any qualms, they have removed entire families from their homes, imposing fear everywhere they go.

    The sixth plague: the destruction of homes which threatens thousands of families. This is not because the municipality is capable of demolishing such a huge number of homes, but because none of the thousands of families who received demolition orders knows who the blow will land on, and when their turn to lose their home will arrive. In this situation, every family lives on borrowed time and the stress is a form of torture.

    The seventh plague: the economic crisis has caused calamity in the eastern city, with close to 70% of all families there living below the “poverty line”. In the absence of any prospects for improving the situation, they have very little to lose.

    The eighth plague: the humiliating attitude of the Border Police, which has become unrestrained and ever more violent, gross, and hot-headed. Its soldiers disdain everything that appears Arab, and injure the deepest sensibilities of Arab citizens.

    The ninth plague: the archaeological excavations that the state is carrying out close to the Temple Mount, both in the Givati car park and in El Wad Street, are generating immense concern among those who believe they are intended to cause the collapse of mosques. It is a belief nurtured by their `intimate` knowledge of the settlers who are conducting the excavations and the nationalist-Messianic agenda that motivates them. It may not be true, but in East Jerusalem even a feeling or a rumor can ignite a conflagration.

    The tenth plague: the low level of municipal services, ranging from garbage collection, to the education system, which determines their inferior status. Every time Arab citizens cross to the western part of the city and see how great the divide is between their own standard of living and that of their Jewish neighbors, it is seared into their awareness.

    Apparently, most Israelis prefer not to know what is happening in East Jerusalem, but the city’s leaders would do well if they rethink their policies before the huge explosion – of which we’ve seen just a short “trailer” in the past few days.

    Dr. Meir Margalit, Member of the Jerusalem City Council for the Meretz faction.


  2. February 2, 2010 at 02:22

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  3. February 4, 2010 at 05:15

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