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Settlers take over Beit Safafa home

May 3, 2010 10:38 A.M. (Updated: May 4, 2010 8:41 P.M.)
Jerusalem – Ma'an – East Jerusalem residents of the Beit Safafa neighborhood said Israeli police accompanied a group of settlers into the area Sunday night, where they took over a family home and set up dozens of flags overnight.

Witnesses described a moderate police presence entering the neighborhood south of the Old City. Officers reportedly entered the home and forced the two elderly residents to evacuate the building, after which at least a dozen settlers moved in.

Upon the eviction of the family, one man described, "the settlers started dancing in the yard," and immediately began installing strings of Israeli flags around the building.

Muhammad Ibrahim Salah, resident of a nearby building and son of the man evicted on Sunday, said the eviction threatens the lives and livelihoods of at least 40 men, women and children who live on family land around the targeted building. He said the home is in the center of the family lands, where other buildings belonging to the family also stand. Sahal explained that he was worried about the fate of other buildings.

An Israeli police spokesman said he would look into the report.

On 28 April, residents said settlers evicted two elderly Palestinians from the Salah family, with an order issued by the Israeli High Court. It was not immediately clear whether the couple had moved back into the home, or if a second family was targeted.

Hajj Ali Ibrahim Salah, 99, and his wife Sheha Hassan Ali, 90, said they had lived in the home for their entire married lives, noting settler court action "started in 1993, when settlers first alleged that they bought the land where our house is built."

The elderly man insisted that his late father bought the home with valid legal papers.

Ongoing antagonism

In October 2009, the Salah family reported being attacked by 12 settlers, though Israeli media reports at the time said six while police said three.

Witnesses said the settler group pulled up to the home in a car, carrying an eviction order for the family home of Ali Ibrahim Salah and his children - the same home evicted on Sunday night.

At the time, Salah said the buildings sheltered 55 residents, 30 of which were under the age of 12 and include his children, Ismail, Mohammad, Mahmoud, Ahmad. He said the settlers claimed they bought the homes from its Armenian owners.

An argument erupted as the settlers demanded the family get out of their home. One of the settlers, reportedly all in their 50s, was armed with a gun, and fired on the family members. Sources said between one and four Palestinians were injured.

The Israeli online news site Ynet said the middle-aged extremists fled the scene after the shooting, but were later found and arrested.

An Israeli police spokesman had a different version of the incident, saying, "Three Jewish people came to the home in Beit Safafa to deliver the eviction order to the family then fighting erupted. It seems one of the Jewish people opened fire with his personal weapon and injured one of the Arab residents in the hand... then the Jewish people fled the scene driving their car."
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