Thursday, April 16, 2009

International presence deters eviction of Palestinian family from East Jerusalem

Today, Israeli police presented the al Hanoun family with an eviction notice notifying them that they would need to vacate the premises within half an hour. Fortunately, a member of the family noticed that the address on the document was not the address of their house. Frustrated, the police left to obtain a notice with the al Hanoun's address on it promising to return within an hour. During that time, members of the neighborhood, various Israeli and Palestinian peace organizations, and the media were mobilized in order to create a presence that would deter the police from returning to carry out the intended eviction.

Similar to the al Kurd family, members of the al Hanoun family were refugees of the 1948 War. In 1956, the United Nations Relief and Works Agencies (UNRWA),in cooperation with the Jordanian government, built housing units for Palestinian refugees of 1948 in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. This agreement would trade UNRWA refugee benefits for permanent housing in this neighborhood.

Since 1972, Israeli settlers have been claiming ownership of the land using fraudulent documents demanding rent from the al Hanoun family. Legal battles have ensued since then. The family was evicted for a period of time in 2002 and forced to live in a tent. However, the court overturned the ruling and the al Hanoun's were allowed to return to their home.

Regardless of that ruling, the eviction notices continue to be issued and the al Hanoun family lives under constant threat of being displaced once again. The al Hanoun family's story is only a part of a much broader Israeli policy of forcing Palestinians in East Jerusalem out to create "One Jerusalem undivided".

To find out more:
PNN's article about the eviction notice today
Maan's article about the al Hanoun family from last month

Below is a map of East Jerusalem neighborhoods from Btselem. The Green Line on the map indicates the 1949 armistice line. The red line represents the Wall, or Separation barrier. The brown indicates Palestinian neighborhoods and the blue indicates illegal Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem.

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