Risk of eviction threatens 4 families on “Oqbat Al-Khaldyeh” in the Old City of Jerusalem
Risk of eviction is threatening four Jerusalemite families that have been living in their homes for dozens of years in the neighborhood of “Oqbat Al-Khaldyeh” in the Old City of Jerusalem. The families received judicial notices from settlement organizations asking them for their properties under the pretext of being owned by Jews before the year 1948. The families of “Hashimeh, Castero, Sidawi and Maswadeh” live in a 2-storey building where every floor consists of three small residential apartments. Nawal Hashimeh and her son’s family (wife and four children) live in one apartment in the first floor, and Hammoudeh Castero and his family (wife and two daughters) live in the second apartment while the third was previously seized by settlers. Hasan Sidawi, hi sister, his wife and four children live in one apartment in the second floor which overlooks Al-Aqsa Mosque, and Nathmyeh Maswadeh, her son and his wife and children live in the second apartment while the third was seized by settlers. The families received a notice to evacuate the property and judicial reports from Rabbi “Benhas Aharon Nimeinski”, “Kolia Fahlin” and “Talmud Torah” settlement organizations. According to the notices received, the families did not pay rent to settlers and made changes to the property and therefore will lost the “protected tenant” class. The settlement organizations also claimed that the Magistrate court issued an evacuation order to Hammoudeh Castero years ago but they decided not to execute it. They claim that Castero family did not attend previous court sessions and did not present any documents to prove being protected tenants. They also did not pay rent as required. Castero family refused the claims and confirmed not receiving any notices regarding this matter. The families explained that they received last week and at the beginning of this week “eviction notices and judicial reports” in favor of the settlers. The settlers’ official handed the families of Castero, Sidawi and Maswadeh the notices last week, and the raided the building again this week and handed eviction notices to the families of Sidawi and Castero. The families confirmed not receiving anything regarding court knowing that they have been paying rent to the settlement organizations through the post office. They also explained that they rented the apartments with a leasing contract from Palestinians. Settlers claim that the property belonged to the Jews who left in the 1930’s. The families have been living in the property before the year 1968 making them “protected tenants”; they have 30 days to respond to the settlers’ claims. Hashimeh family pointed out that they received an eviction notice two years ago after installing an iron gate to their apartment under the pretext of “changing the property’s landmark”. Since then, nothing happened. Sidawi family explained going through a tough case at the Israeli courts to prove their right to the property; they won the case against the settlers between 2009 and 2011. The families said that seizing their apartments in within the Israeli policy of seizing property in the Old City of Jerusalem under the pretext of being owned by Jews. It is also process of surrounding Al-Aqsa Mosque with settlement outposts but they have been steadfast in their properties for years despite the harassment and strict laws imposed on them in terms of not making any changes or renovating their apartments inside and outside. They are also not allowed to change windows, tile or floors and any of the above causes them to lose their “protective tenant” rights. The families talked about suffering from the settlers in their building as well as the settlers living and visiting the synagogue adjacent to their building as they continuously assaulted, beat, sprayed with papers gas and insulted. The families considered their steadfastness and presence in their home as one way of protecting the city of Jerusalem on one side and Al-Aqsa Mosque on another.