4 Internationals, 1 Palestinian Arrested in Protest Tent in East Jerusalem

19 November 2008

From Maan News Agency

A Palestinian and four internationals were taken into Israeli police custody at a protest in East Jerusalem on Wednesday, according to a statement.

The five were demonstrating against the demolition of a Palestinian family’s home in Sheikh Jarrah, an East Jerusalem neighborhood, where the house was demolished by Israeli forces on 9 November. The home, which belonged to the Al-Kurd family, was built on private Palestinian property, the statement claimed.

Later on Wednesday afternoon, all five protestors were released without charges. Aside from the one Palestinian seized by Israeli police forces, two of the jailed protestors are from Denmark, one is British and another is from Sweden. All five were temporarily jailed in the Israeli “Russian Compound” prison in Jerusalem.

The family’s house was slated for demolition in order to pave the way for a 26-story apartment complex in the neighborhood, a project that could leave up to 500 Palestinian homeless, according to the statement received on Wednesday.

In July, the US State Department brought forward an official complaint to the Israeli government over the eviction of the Al-Kurd family, openly questioning the legality on which a Jewish settler group relied to seize the land owned by the family.

The neighborhood itself was built by the Jordanian government in 1956 to house the overflow of Palestinian refugees who had fled during the 1948 war. The Al-Kurd family are refugees from Jaffa and West Jerusalem.

In 1967, Israel occupied East Jerusalem. Shortly thereafter, settlers began to claim ownership of the land on which the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood was built. In 1972, settlers formally registered a claim of ownership, citing a document that supposedly proved the land had been purchased in the 1800 from its Ottoman owners.

In 2006, an Israeli court ruled the settlers’ claim void, ruling that it was based on fraudulent documents. Subsequently, a lawyer for the Al-Kurd family petitioned the Israeli Land Registrar to revoke the settlers’ registration of the land and clarify the land’s actual owners. The court agreed to revoke the settlers’ claims, but stopped short of recognizing the Al-Kurd family as the land’s rightful owners.