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Settler takeover makes life hell for East Jerusalem Palestinians

In Jerusalem’s Batan al-Hawa neighborhood, Palestinians have been facing a series of ‘quiet’ evictions by state-backed settler organizations.

By Amit Gilutz

Israeli border police arrest a Palestinian youth in East Jerusalem’s Shuafat Refugee Camp, file photo. (Photo by Tess Scheflan/Activestills.org)

Israeli border police arrest a Palestinian youth in East Jerusalem’s Shuafat Refugee Camp, file photo. (Photo by Tess Scheflan/Activestills.org)

“A police officer named Fares made us stand facing the wall, and kicked our legs hard until we spread them apart. Then he beat us and spoke to us very rudely. He said: ‘Do you want me to fuck you?’ When I said no, he asked: ‘Have you ever been fucked?’ I said no, and he kept asking: ‘Do you want me to fuck you some other time?’ I turned around and said: ‘If you want for yourself.’ He said: ‘I’m going to punch you now so hard it’ll flatten your face.’”

This scene is not an excerpt from a Jean Genet novel, but from a testimony given by 13-year-old M. to B’Tselem field researcher Hussam Abed. While the experience M. described is horrifying, it is not particularly remarkable among the children of his neighborhood, Batan al-Hawa, in East Jerusalem. They have been living in a state of constant friction with Israeli security personnel ever since settlers — accompanied by police and private security guards, generously funded by Israel’s housing minister — began invading the crowded neighborhood.

There is nothing spontaneous about Jewish settlers moving into the heart of a Palestinian neighborhood while dispossessing the local residents. In fact, it is a well-planned undertaking that is broadly supported by Israeli state authorities. In this case, the organization behind the home ownership claims is Ateret Cohanim, whose actions were facilitated by a racist combination of three laws, which make it possible to claim ownership over property that had belonged to Jews before 1948. The courts have given their stamp of approval to these injurious actions.

In 2015 three Palestinian families were evicted from their homes in Batan al-Hawa to make way for settlers. Since then, about 80 other families in the neighborhood have been living under the shadow of the same threat. They and the children of Batan al-Hawa live in an atmosphere of constant tension as a result of daily contact with the settlers and their security personnel. Even though Israel’s juvenile justice system stipulates that the arrest of a minor should be a last resort, testimonies collected by B’Tselem indicate the unbearable ease with which children are arrested in the neighborhood.

Security guards escort settler children in the neighborhood of Batan al-Hawa, East Jerusalem. December 2016. (Sarit Michaeli, B’Tselem)

Security guards escort settler children in the neighborhood of Batan al-Hawa, East Jerusalem. December 2016. (Sarit Michaeli, B’Tselem)

In response, neighborhood residents opened a local branch of the Madaa Creative Center about three months ago. The idea is simple: the streets have become too dangerous for the children of the neighborhood, so they must be kept off them as much as possible. The center, which operates five days a week from morning to evening, includes a small courtyard, a computer lab with internet access and games, and spaces for arts and crafts classes. Although Internet access was cut off for several weeks after security guards fired live ammunition in the middle of the neighborhood, damaging infrastructure, service has since been restored.

Yet the fundamental problem in Batan al-Hawa – namely, Israel’s attitude toward the Palestinians living under its rule – will take much longer to fix. The process of expulsion in the neighborhood – the largest in Jerusalem in years – is one of many eviction proceedings quietly initiated by the state in East Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank.

Israel’s governments have constructed a dangerous illusion that the occupation is a temporary matter, and all that needs to be done is to wait for it to be over. But while on one side of the Green Line the illusion of the occupation as “temporary” persists, whereas in fact it is getting stronger and more entrenched, another generation of Palestinian children is growing up in reality. And in the real world, there is violence – not only by police officers or by the settlers and their security guards, but by all the mechanisms of the government in concert: the legislature, the judiciary, the planning, budgeting and security systems – that is directed against them.

Amit Gilutz is spokesperson for B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Aziz

      Why do the Jewish residents need security guards? Is it because their Palestinian neighbors don’t want Jews in the neighborhood?

      Reply to Comment
      • Baladi Akka 1948

        Taking Arabic-sounding pseudos is a common procedure for Hasbara. Why don’t you read the article ? It explains why the native Palestinians don’t wan’t settlers – may they be Jews, Mapuche or Bamileke – in their homes.

        Reply to Comment
        • Aziz

          I don’t understand. When some Israelis move into Palestinian neighborhoods they don’t need protection. When others do they need security guards because their new neighbors wish them harm. The ones that don’t need protection are Muslims and Christians. The ones that do are Jews. Are only the Jews settlers, and if so, is it not then a fact that their neighbors don’t want Jews in their neighborhood?

          Reply to Comment
    2. i_like_ike52

      Sort of a recycling of old headlines from the past:
      “Jewish takeover makes life hell for Germans” or “Jewish takeover makes life hell for Poles”.

      Reply to Comment
      • carmen

        This definitely is like 1930s europe. The israeli zionists are the oppressors; however, and the palestinians are the jews.

        Reply to Comment
        • i_like_ike52

          Exactly. In your worldview, the Jews are still the bad guys.

          Reply to Comment
          • carmen

            Oh, you must’ve gotten help coming up with that one. How juvenile.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            He did not need help from others. You just begged for that apt response which he gave you, Carmen.

            Reply to Comment
          • carmen

            I begged for it? Then why did you answer? He turned something around that i said to make a point and you then gave him props for it. European jews were victims of nazi ideology and the world standing by and watching. Palestinians are victims of zionist ideology and the world watches and does nothing. The truth is an inconvenience, especially when the zionists want to portray themselves as victims to one audience and hard as a rock to each other. The ultimate circle jerk.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            “I begged for it? Then why did you answer?”

            Coz you begged for it, duh 😂

            Reply to Comment
          • carmen

            Spoken like a rapist, the mindset of the zionist-cult. Take what doesn’t belong to you, violently of course, then cry like a bitch when your victim fights back.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            Are you my victim, Carmen?

            You call what you do fighting back? Sounds to me more like bitching, LOL.

            Reply to Comment
          • carmen

            Not at all. You’re delusions of grandeur, power, strength and at the same time victimhood, is on full display kol hazman. But I’ve always suspected you to be an incredibly insecure man or woman, who is terrified of appearing weak. You should be more concerned about appearing like a fool.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            “who is terrified of appearing weak”

            Nope. Let me tell you lady, I can be weak at times. It is human to be weak.

            Oh, and sometimes I am foolish too. It is human to be foolish.

            You on the other hand Carmen? You are full of hatred and not too bright. Have you got it in you to admit it?

            PS
            I am eagerly awaiting your predictable response to tell me that I am not human. But if I am right, that will say more about you than me.

            Reply to Comment
          • Chris

            “I can be weak at times. It is human to be weak.”

            Self-hating Zionist Anti-SemiteJew bigots like you will always be terrified and feel weak because ethno-religious nationalism makes you weak.

            “Oh, and sometimes I am foolish too. It is human to be foolish.”

            You are clearly psychotic. To be Zionist is to become unhinged.

            “You are full of hatred and not too bright. Have you got it in you to admit it?”

            No, you are full of Zionism and need to be admitted to a psychiatric facility.

            PS

            The ground beneath you is “eagerly awaiting” your predictable response, which will be to produce a great big puddle of Zionist we-we when you need to we yourself again in order to tell yourself that Jews are not human and that “you should cherish and be proud” and “can actually respect” and that you “stand with” Jew-hating bigots like you.

            Reply to Comment
          • Chris

            “He did not need help from others.”

            Says the psychotic Zionist Anti-SemiteJew bigot even as he chimes in to lend support to his psychotic Zionist Anti-SemiteJew bigot comrade having figured his fellow zio JSIS shill in arms did in fact “need help from others” to better spread the zio Jew-hate.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            😜

            Reply to Comment
          • Chris

            “Exactly. In your worldview, the Jews are still the bad guys.”

            No, Jew bait, that was definitely just you projecting the malignant Zionism induced self-hatred that constitutes the crux of your cancerous Zionist worldview.

            Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        @Ike52: This is a particularly galling and shameless example of your constant propagandistic anti-Semitizing and Holocaust exploitation.* Especially as it is the Jews in this article who are frankly behaving as did their persecutors of 75 years ago.

        * Anti-Semitism, for Netanyahu and much of the Israeli and Jewish press, is clickbait. Mention it and you can all but guarantee almost automatic outrage. Just like advertisers can avoid talking about why a car is expensive by using sexual imagery or even the word “sex” to sell it, the Israeli government can dodge difficult questions about its policy by “anti-Semitizing” those who raise these questions….”
        read more: https://972mag.com/lets-talk-about-what-unesco-resolution-does-say-instead-of-what-it-doesnt/12262

        Reply to Comment
        • AJew

          Hey Benny, meet Chris. Chris, meet Benny.

          Twiddle dee and twiddle Bumb. Both the faces of Arab hatred and hatefulness.

          Benny, you should cherish and be proud of Chris. He displays your own hatred towards Jews openly. I can actually respect that. At least we know exactly where we stand with him.

          You on the other hand Benny? You are just as hateful but you are much more of a hypocrite. I respect that less.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Troll.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            Chris, Benny just called you a troll.

            Reply to Comment
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