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Police, settlers take over Jerusalem home

July 29, 2010 8:56 A.M. (Updated: July 31, 2010 12:02 P.M.)
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Israeli settlers accompanied by police took over a building in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem early Thursday morning, evicting families from three of the building's apartments.

Israeli National Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said two Jewish families entered the Old City home "based on documents claiming that they owned the property." He described the eviction as proceeding without incident.

After the families entered the homes, police requested the documents upon which the eviction was carried out, and according to Rosenfeld they were being "examined by police to determine whether they are accurate or not."

If the police deem the documents to be valid, he explained, they would be transferred to Israeli courts.

Fatah official for Jerusalem Affairs Hatem Abdel Qader told Ma'an Radio on Thursday afternoon the the documents presented to police were fake. He said that the families who entered the homes were part of a Jewish group that lost a lawsuit in 1996, wherein they sought to take over the same home but failed to sufficiently prove ownership.

Palestinian defendants proved to an Israseli court that the home was owned by Kamal Handal and rented by Qeresh family, Abdel Qader said.

"This armed burglary is considered an attack on a Palestinian home and will not pass silently," he official added.

Evicted family members gathered at the home on Thursday afternoon, and were shortly thereafter joined by ten or more settlers, all hoping to gain access to the home. Israeli police stationed outside the building prevented both residents and settlers from entering, witnesses said.

The home, two stories with 11 small family apartments, is owned by the families of Suleiman Handal, rented by Kamal Qeresh and located in the As-Sa'dieh neighborhood near the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Three of the apartments housed families, totaling 50 residents. It was not immediately clear how many were taken out of the home. According to Fatah Revolutionary Council Member Demitri Delani, many of the women and children refused to be evicted and remained in their homes with barricaded doors.

By noon, Rosenfeld said he believed there were no Palestinians in the home.

Delani said the settlers now occupy five homes, and he fears the building could be taken over as a settler Yeshiva explaining that the building was a school before 1967, after which it was converted into apartments.

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