The Hanoun’s homeNext, just two weeks ago, on August 2, the Hanoun and Al Ghawi families, comprising 53 people including 20 children, were similarly evicted. Settlers moved in the same day, and the families are now camping on the street opposite their former homes, the settlers having failed to get a court order to move them on. These families have lived in Sheikh Jarrah since 1956 when, previously refugee-ed from West Jerusalem, they received funding from the UNWRA to build their homes on land provided by the Jordanian government. But in a protracted court case, the settlers claimed (with documents now proven to be false) that Jews had owned the land before that. The first judge resigned rather than make a decision, the second ruled for the settlers. When we visited Mr Hanoun, he said ‘OK, if that is the law, let them take this house, but give me back my house in West Jerusalem.’ Unfortunately, the justice that settlers have access to does not apply to this mild mannered Palestinian.

The Hanoun’s camp on the corner opposite their houseLegal channels are now closed to the Hanouns and Al Ghawis, but 25 of their neighbours’ in Sheikh Jarrah, a total 475 people, have also had evictions orders served on them. Although he is very tired and anxious, Mr Ghawi is still fighting. He told us yesterday that everything must be done to stop Shiekh Jarrah becoming a second Hebron, where Israeli settler families tyrannise Palestinian families after taking over neighbourhoods in the historic centre. The fact that the settlers’ group targeting Sheikh Jarrah is funded by US Bingo king Irving Moscowitz, who also funds the Hebron settlers, is ominous. Mr Ghawi hopes international solidarity and diplomatic pressure can help where justice has failed. And ironically, the evictions are taking place right under our diplomats’ very noses since many of the nearby traditional old stone Palestinian mansions now house Consulates. The consular missions have protested the settler plan, but it steams on. The American Colony Hotel where ‘peace envoy’ Tony Blair resides on the top floor is literally just around the corner from the Hanouns. So, how about it, Tony, it’s in your own backyard after all? Joking apart, international solidarity is important, so please can everyone read up about it and contact their MPs. For facts, see the UN OCHA website www.ochaopt.org.

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