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      PA Arab Squatters Remain on Jerusalem Property

      Yitzchak Herskovitz continues to battle Arab squatters in the courts as yet another eviction was postponed Sunday.
      By Ezra HaLevi
      First Publish: 11/14/2007, 1:11 PM

      Yitzchak Herskovitz, in his eighties, continues to battle Arab squatters in the courts as yet another eviction was postponed Sunday.

      Herskovitz has been in the courts for fifteen years against a clan of PA Arabs who are squatting on a property he owns just below the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat HaMatos, near Beit Tzefafa. Even after multiple rulings in his favor, the return of his property had been repeatedly delayed and called into question. 

      The property, with downtown Jerusalem in the background.

      “The government and courts are responsible for protecting the property rights of their citizens, but they are not doing so.” Herskovitz told Arutz-7.  “I do not believe a person can fathom the pain of what this trespassing does to me.”

      Earlier this year, on July 2, Herskovitz was given a court order to evict the squatters. At first, the police demanded that he pay for a large number of officers to enforce the order in the face of expected violence. After he paid the sum and dozens of Jewish volunteers showed up to assist in reclaiming the property, police said an injunction had postponed the order due to a legal technicality the Arabs’ lawyer brought to court at the last moment.

      Members of the Salah clan on the property.

      Arutz-7’s coverage of the story led to the Knesset Law Committee’s adjustment of the law requiring private citizens to pay the police to enforce a court order, but the eviction has yet to take place.

      A new date was eventually set, with Jerusalem District Court Judge Noam Solberg demanding that the Arabs’ lawyer, Mohammad Dahleh, sign an agreement that he would cease the use of delay tactics.

      The date was then delayed once more due to a police policy not to carry out evictions during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The new eviction date was finally set for Sunday, November 11, but was again postponed at the last minute – due to yet another loophole found by Dahleh, who had refused to sign the agreement presented by the Judge.

      “It was proven without a doubt, with a preponderance of evidence that the Salah clan invaded the Givat HaMatos and Beit Tzefafa area by way of Bethlehem,” Herskovitz says. “It is with a strong desire to seek a peaceful solution to this dilemma that I go to court. Others, I believe, would have taken the law in their own hands.”

      The matriarch of the squatters picks up a rock to throw at the photographer as a Border Police officer looks on.

      Not Only in House Illegally, But Jerusalem Too
      The Salah clan, which is squatting in the residence, is not only residing in Herskovitz’s property illegally, but in Jerusalem altogether in contravention of the law. The clan resided in the PA village of Tamra south of Jerusalem until they were forced to leave by the village elders due to criminal activity.

      Herskovitz recently made several trips to the relevant Judea and Samaria police and Civil Administration authorities to ascertain whether they had the documents required to enter pre-1967 Israel from PA-controlled areas. He found out that they have no such permission and are in Jerusalem illegally.

      Herskovitz alleges that the police know this and refuse to take action against the clan.

      He is now demanding that the police file a criminal suit against the squatters. “Even when I win this current case, they will not be punished for their actions,” he says, “because it is a civil trespass suit, whereas their actions are criminal. Their actions are more than mere squatting or trespassing, but their presentation of false documents in court proves their intent is criminal. I believe the State of Israel should give them alternate housing – in jail – so that others will know that trespassers are indeed punished.”

      Herskovitz says activists have the ability to influence the police to enforce the law, suggesting Minister of Public Security Avi Dichter be contacted.  His numbers are:

      Phone: 02 542-8502
      Fax: 02 542-8039
      (From outside Israel, replace first “0” with “011-972”)