As Netanyahu completes his visit to the US, the settlers are holding a big ceremony to announce the opening of 60 housing units in the Palestinian neighborhood of Ras El-Amud in East Jerusalem. The construction of the 60 units was already completed few months ago, but the settlers wanted to create their provocation at the best political timing.
The Ras El-Amud settlement (AKA “Ma’ale Zeitim”) started in 1997 when settlers took over a Palestinian house at the heart of the Palestinian neighborhood of Ras El-Amud. The house and the land adjacent to it was bought by Dr. Irvin Moskowitz, an American Jew who supports settlement activity, and a plan to build some 130 housing units for settlers (plan No. 4689) was approved soon after.
The first phase, of 50 units, was completed in 2003 and some 50 families moved in. The second phase, of 60 units, was completed in recent months, and today the settlers are celebrating its opening. The third phase, of another 20 units, can’t be implemented now because of a Palestinian family who owns and lives in a house that should be demolished in order to build the new building.
The settlers have been trying to kick the family out of the house for years. They claimed ownership based on the fact the land was owned by Jews before 1948, and now should return to the original Jewish owners. The Palestinian family, Hamdallah Family, managed to convince the judge that they have full rights in the house due to the long time that passed since the settlers got the ownership and the date when they first started the eviction procedures in court.
The settlers continues to put pressure on the family to leave the house. They continue to raise new arguments in court, causing the Hamdallah family more expenses for legal assistance and constant worry and threat. The most resent argument is that one room of the house was built after the limitation time and therefore, should pass to the hands of the settlers. Tomorrow (26/5/11), the court will discuss the issue again. If the settlers succeed, they will have the right to use this room and will share the house with the Hamdallah’s, what might turn their life into a nightmare. This will enable the settlers to put even more pressure on the Family to leave and/or to sell the house.
Another project in Ras El-Amud that should soon be completed, is the “Ma’ale David” compound at the old Police Station. The settlers are currently renovating two buildings that were used by the Israeli police in order to bring in some 17 settler families. Another settlers compound might be built not far down the road.