Peter Beaumont: Arabs under siege as Israel tightens grip on Holy City

Peter Beaumont, The Observer, 27 July 2008

Fawzia al-Kurd’s home is nothing special. She has lived within its walls for the past quarter of a century, in the heart of East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah district. The house is tidy. But at first glance, it would not appear to be worth $10m.

That is the sum that the al-Kurd family claim they were offered by Israeli buyers as an incentive to move on, a figure confirmed by their lawyer. Fawzia refused to make a deal, whatever the price. It would have hurt her ‘integrity’ to take it and leave, she said. So last week she received an eviction notice, based on an arcane legal claim to the site that her husband first called home in 1956.

If she and her family are forced to leave as a result, ultra-Orthodox Israeli settlers from a company called Nahlat Shemoun – linked to a nearby Jewish shrine – will take over half of the house. Settlers have already occupied her illegally built extension. The Kurd house may soon be draped with Israeli flags – as is another a handful of metres distant – and Arab East Jerusalem will have shrunk perceptibly once more.

‘Their objective [in trying to evict me] is political’, said Fawzia. ‘They are claiming as theirs something that is not.’

[Read the report]