Activists with Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity protesting the settlement where Aryeh King lives, East Jerusalem, 2011. (Photo: Activestills)
Following an extremist settler’s announcement to take over Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, the right-wing leader, Aryeh King published an ad in a newspaper seeking “strong men [who] are wanted to legally evacuate Arab squatters.” Adding, if the state will not remove the family, “the Jews will do it without the police’s aid.” The settler leader, speaking to Haaretz, estimated his call will attract, “dozens of unmarried army veterans [will] arrive this week and clear out the [Palestinian] tenets.”
Suleiman family. (Photo: Emil Salman)
King’s vigilante crew is poised to forcibly remove a Palestinian family, the Suleimans, from their East Jerusalem home. The family was recently cleared of an impending eviction notice from the government and King is hoping to re-instate the order, carrying it out himself.
Palestinians with eviction orders rarely receive injunctions. Typically, once a Palestinian house receives an eviction notice, the residents have about 30 days before they must vacate, which makes the Suleiman’s case extremely rare. But for Jewish Israelis, evictions stays are common and often applied to illegal outposts. For example, a few years ago when Hagit Ofran was describing her work with Peace Now’s settlement watch to me, she said most of the illegal outposts she had visited have multiple eviction (or demolition) orders, which were never implemented. Ofran also said some outposts have as many as eight written notices. A recent manifestation of this no-eviction-for-Israelis policy is found in the controversial settlement of Migron, home to some of the “price tag” hilltop youth. For nearly a decade, the outpost has been marked for eviction. Finally in 2011 Migron was temporarily evicted and demolition. But after the bulldozers left, settlers returned and re-built the camp. They now have a two year stays on the eviction order and support from a Knesset working group.
King thinks the Suleiman’s eviction was held off due to Netanyahu’s recent visit to the U.S.; the Suleimans were spared as a way to keep the prime minister’s visit scandal-free. And, he might be right.
But King is determined to remove the 18-person Palestinian family, including one pregnant woman, from their house. “I’ve got no problem. You want us to wait until she gives birth?” King said to Haaretz, continuing, “we’ll do it, but in the presence of a lawyer and a left-wing public figure as a witness. They keep wasting time and don’t give us answers.” And as one would imagine, the Suleimans are not cowering to King. “I told Aryeh King I wasn’t going to get out, they can kill us, but we won’t get out,” said Khaled Natcha. He continued, “we’ll die on this land and won’t get out. It’s our land, our father’s – so why should we leave?”
The Suleimans say their family has owned the East Jerusalem house since 1935, however, King claims the Palestinians are squatters. King also claims the Suleimans moved into the property in 2002 and insists a Jewish Israeli owns the house.
King’s group, the Israel Land Fund (ILA), has a history of vigilante Palestinian home evictions in East Jerusalem. The ILA believes these Palestinians are squatters and strives to remove them in order to construct an “eternal homeland” for “Jewish pioneers.”
King’s Israel Land Fund delivering eviction notices claiming the Palestinians are “illegally squatting on Jewish owned land in Anata, East Jerusalem,” 2007.
The ILA’s website states, “house by house, lot by lot, the Israel Land Fund is ensuring the land of Israel stays in the hands of the Jewish people forever.” The minimum amount to purchase a Jewish only lot with the ILA is $6,000.