Palestinians in the West Bank are bracing themselves for more violence by extremist Israeli settlers after their eviction from a Palestinian-owned house in the town of Hebron. The settlers say that they had legally purchased the house, a claim vehemently denied by its Palestinian owner.
Since their eviction, settlers have torched fields, olive groves and yards in Hebron and nearby villages. They also opened fire on Palestinians, wounding three. Violence has also spread to areas around Nablus and Ramallah. In Bittin, north of Ramallah, settlers broke into a home and vandalized Palestinian property, and in several other West Bank villages, anti-Muslim graffiti was sprayed on mosque walls.
Shortly after the Six Day War in 1967, Israeli settlers forcefully took over several homes in Hebron; on many occasions under the watchful eyes of Israeli soldiers. In 1994, Baruch Goldstein, a doctor who had emigrated from the U.S., machine-gunned 29 Palestinians to death as they prayed in Hebron's Ibrahimi Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan. In 2005, I worked on a documentary and witnessed first hand the plight of a Palestinian family living in fear under the continuous harassment of the zealot settlers who were determined to drive them away from their ancestral home.
Ironically the settlers had named the house they occupied in Hebron "Beit Hashalom" or the Peace House.
Under an equally ironic title, "tolerance", the city of Jerusalem has given the Wiesenthal Center the green light to destroy an ancient Muslim cemetery in the Mammilla neighborhood of West Jerusalem in order to build a new "Museum of Tolerance" there.
Construction work has already begun in a corner of the graveyard. Dozens of bones have been dug up, and no decision has been taken over what to do with them.
Palestinians opposed to the new building say that any proposal to build on top of a Jewish cemetery would never have been allowed.
"When a grave is destroyed at a Jewish cemetery in Russia or France, the entire State of Israel is in shock. In Jerusalem, an entire Muslim cemetery is being desecrated and no one cares," a Palestinian reporter told me over the phone.
The al- Kurd Family
Finally, Um Kamal al-Kurd walked with dozens of activists from East Jerusalem to her original home in the Talbiyeh neighborhood in West Jerusalem. She is attempting to exercise her right of return after Israeli forces evicted her from East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
The Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem was built by the UN and Jordanian government in 1956 to house Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war. However, with the start of the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem following the 1967 war, settlers began claiming ownership of the land the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood was built on.
Last month the Israeli authority's forcefully evicted Um Kamal along with her ailing husband from their house in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem, where they had been living since 1956. Um Kamal had for two weeks been living in a tent, not far away from their home from which they were evicted, along with international peace supporters. Last week, Israeli police and military personnel brought in a bulldozer and demolished the tent. The ailing husband has since died in a Jerusalem hospital.
If Israeli settlers can make property claims in East Jerusalem based on title deeds that pre-exist 1948, why can't Palestinians make similar claims in West Jerusalem?
Jamal Dajani produces the Mosaic Intelligence Report on Link TV