Palestinian family loses its Jerusalem home to Israeli settlers

JERUSALEM -- After more than 25 years of legal battle to keep its home, a Palestinian family of four was forced Sunday to leave its one-room house in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras el-Amoud after an Israeli court ordered their eviction. The family must turn the house over to its new owners, Israeli settlers.

The settlers led by Florida millionaire Irving Moskowitz, who made his money from gambling, have been after two brothers from the Hamdallah family in Ras el-Amoud since 1985 to get them to leave a plot of land they have lived on for decades.

After dozens of court hearings and back-and-forth lawsuits and appeals, an Israeli court decided in 2005 that Moskowitz was the legal owner of the plot located in the heart of the Arab neighborhood and ordered the younger of the Hamdallah brothers to evacuate his house while allowing the older to stay.

According to Khaled Hamdallah, the older brother, Moskowitz has claimed that a half-acre plot Khaled and his brother Ahmad had built their homes on was his and that he has plans to build a 119-housing unit settlement block on that property to expand his nearby project known as Maale HaZiteem.

Khaled Hamdallah said his family has lived on that land since 1952, long before Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967. Ahmad Hamdallah built the one-room house next door after he got married a few years ago.

The Israeli District Court ordered that only Ahmad’s house and part of the land should be turned over to the settlers and the Palestinian family should leave it.

Israeli police and settlers arrived at the site early Sunday and ordered Ahmad and his family to leave while taking their furniture out. Settlers came later, barricaded the windows and doors with metal panels and put up a fence around the plot the court had given them.

Khaled said he stood watching unable to do anything while his brother and family were driven out of their home. The family moved to another place they had rented in anticipation of these events.

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--Maher Abukhater

 
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