Evacuation ProtestAnyway, back to the Battle for Jerusalem. Many Jerusalemites think the battle is all over, that Israel is too strong and they are too alone. But the spirit is still strong in the Hannoun and Ghawi camps under the olive tree. All the same, with autumn upon us and the children back at school, it is getting harder to sleep out on the street and international pressure does not look like making Israel return their houses. So, last week the Sheikh Jarrah families went to demonstrate in front of the UNWRA – the UN agency set up for Palestinian refugees in 1948. Two year-old Sarah Ghawi held a sign saying ‘We are human beings, not monkeys to live under a tree.’ UNWRA’s responsibility stems from 1956 when it gave the families houses in return for renouncing the financial benefits of refugee status. That was generations ago. Now they are refugees again. Accepting responsibility is, however, a big step. Any agreement will eventually include the other 25 houses targeted by settlers. The remaining families want UN flags put on their houses to show the UNWRA built them, and UN help with lawyers.

Evictions will come one by one. The court hearing for the next house is October 24. It belongs to Mohammed Sabbagh and his five brothers: there are 40 family members, 20 of them under 18. Mohammed has the tiniest of hopes that the outcome of his hearing will be different. This is because the evidence showing the settlers’ documents are fake, that emerged during the Ghawi and Hannoun hearings but was not admitted because it came too late, will be presented again and hopefully admitted. Lawyers went to Turkey to look for the originals of the settlers’ Ottoman Empire documents and found they did not exist. Mohammed is hoping against hope, but admits ‘it will need a revolution in the Israeli court to get a positive result.’ I’ll keep you posted just before I leave.

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