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Residents prevent seizure of land in Sheikh Jarrah

Sept. 20, 2018 3:32 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 21, 2018 11:41 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli settlers attempted to seize Palestinian-owned land, on Thursday, in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, however, the residents intervened and prevented the seizure.

Hashem Badr, member of a local Sheikh Jarrah committee, said that Israeli settlers stormed the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, under the protection of Israeli forces, and removed the barbed wire surrounding the 50-square-meter piece of land.

Residents of the neighborhood quickly intervened and remained on the land as a form of resistance to the attempted seizure by Israeli settlers.

Badr confirmed that the land belongs to Abed al-Razeq al-Sheikh, whose house is adjacent to the land, and that the seizure was for settlement purposes.

Muhammad Kiswani, also a member of a local Sheikh Jarrah committee, confirmed that among the Israeli settlers who stormed the neighborhood was Arieh King, Jerusalem City councilman, who supports illegal Israeli settlement expansion.

Kiswani mentioned that Israeli settlers along with members of the Custodian of Absentees' Property had previously attempted to seize the same piece of land at the end of August, during which Israeli bulldozers began to raze the land and uprooted planted trees.

He added that the Custodian of Absentees' Property attempted to claim ownership of the land and attempted to carry out the seizure without an official decision from the Israeli court.

According to Israeli law, Jewish Israelis are permitted to claim ownership over property believed to have been owned by Jews before 1948 during Ottoman or British rule.

However, such a law does not exist for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees who were displaced from their lands and homes during and after the establishment of the state of Israel.

Israelis have claimed that Sheikh Jarrah was once the site of a 19th century Jewish community. Many families in the neighborhood have been embroiled in legal disputes for decades, as various Israeli settlers have attempted to claim ownership over their homes.

Some of the properties that had once been owned by Jews -- thousands of whom fled East Jerusalem during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war -- were re-purposed by the Jordanian government, who took control over the territory following the war, to house some of the approximately 750,000 Palestinians who were forced from homes that were consumed by the new Israeli state.

When Israel took control over the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza after the Six-Day War in 1967, the Jordanian-controlled properties were transferred to Israel's general custodian.

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