outside the family tentTo finish, I’ll bring you up to date with the Hannoun and Ghawi families saga. We‟ve known for some time that a speaking tour of the US was being arranged for them by the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. They would be going with others from Silwan and Bethlehem. Nobody dared breathe until their visas were confirmed. As soon they were in the bag, the departure date was set. Nasser Ghawi was going, but not Maher Hannoun since he has a criminal record after spending three months in jail last year for refusing to hand over the keys to his house. Going in his place was his twenty-year old niece Sharihan.

However, the night before departure, the settlers opposite attacked the Ghawi’s tent and six of them were hospitalised, including children. Another five were arrested. ‘Lucky you weren‟t there,’ I said to Nasser later, referring to his imminent departure. ‘Lucky for them,’ he told me. He left the next morning, but he must be so worried about his family. The settlers sit in chairs outside the house, their weapons provocatively on display in a street where children play. No one arrests them. Although we visit almost every day, we also receive emergency calls: one came late last Friday night when fifty settler supporters came to dance and sing in the street between the tent and the house. Five police cars turned up too, it was very tense but no violence. Next day, the police came by with a demolition order for the tent to be carried out on the Sunday. It did not happen. On the Monday, though, there was trouble between the settlers and a group of French visitors. Some were arrested and so was an employee of the Greek embassy. It is so surreal.

The Sheikh Jarrah US tour is going well. The group has been invited to the White House and to speak in Congress, and Sharihan has 42 interviews. Nasser looks a bit fierce with his bushy beard (I hope he will not scare the Americans) but he is a gentle man and a fine speaker in Arabic, Hebrew and English. Despite his family’s eviction, he calls for ‘justice and reconciliation between the two communities in Jerusalem, which will not be a place of tension and violence but a meeting place between neighbours living in unity.’

Today was the second court hearing for Mohammed Sabbagh whose house is the next in the Sheikh Jarrah firing line. No decision was taken; next hearing January 18. He has plenty of support from the consulates, aid agencies, Israeli NGOs but more than solidarity is needed if the settler takeover of East Jerusalem is to be halted before Palestinians physically disappear together with the idea of Palestine…

That’s it for this time. I’m coming to the end of my three months. Hopefully next journal I’ll tell you not only about the awful things that are going on but about some of the extraordinary people resisting them against all the odds, and others who act in solidarity with them.

See you all very soon. Can’t wait to see Rafa and the girls, I think of them a lot when playing football with the Triaqe toddlers in front of their pile of rubble.

Lots of love, Ann

I have been sent by Quaker Peace and Social Witness to participate in the World Council of Churches‟ Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). The views contained here personal and do not necessarily reflect that of QPSW or the WCC. If you wish to public the information contained her or disseminate it further, please first contact the EAPPI national coordinator. teresap@quaker.org.uk

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