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Video: Exclusive Visit to Beit Yehonatan

A guided video tour of the contested Beit Yehonatan in eastern Jerusalem's Yemenite Village, below the Temple Mount.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 2/1/2010, 11:52 PM / Last Update: 2/2/2010, 1:12 PM

An Arutz-7 correspondent was taken on an exclusive guided tour on Monday of the Silwan (Shiloah) neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem, and particularly the now-famous Beit Yehonatan building there.

Arutz-7’s Hizky Ezra filmed dozens of illegal Arab structures in the neighborhood, among them two massive apartment buildings, against which many demolition orders have been issued – but not carried out. Beit Yehonatan, on the other hand, has been the subject of irate letters from the State Prosecutor and outgoing Attorney-General, who demand that the municipality seal or destroy it at once. The eight families living there are far from giving up.

 

 

The video begins with a drive to Beit Yehonatan (named for Jonathan Pollard) in a reinforced security force vehicle, with the guide pointing out the glut of illegal Arab structures along the way. The guide, who insisted on remaining unidentified and unphotographed, is a member of one of the eight families living in the building.

 

He noted that the Jewish presence in the neighborhood was vibrant and dynamic beginning in 1882, when Yemenite families began arriving in what became known as the Yemenite Village. Jewish life there was cut off, however, in 1938, when the British evicted the families to protect them from murderous Arab mobs. “We returned in 2004,” the man said, “and Jewish life here has become vibrant and joyous once again.”

 

Though signs of firebomb attacks on Beit Yehonatan can be seen (0:50 on the video), “the police have begun operating more actively here, and we thank them.”

 

Eight families live there, and another one in nearby Beit Dvash, and 15 students study in a kollel (1:35) in Beit Yehonatan.

 

See below for a 2004 video of a "return" of descendants of the original Yemenite settlers.

At 1:50, the guide relates that family names are not posted on the doors, “because the city’s legal counsel, Yossi Havilio, is pursuing us – even though we are not the owners of the building, as he knows, but he can’t find the owner, so he tries to take action against us. One apartment has already been sealed up – after dozens of special Yassam unit police officers arrived and closed off the road for this special operation to seal up one Jewish apartment! And now we hear that the city doesn’t have enough manpower to enforce laws against all the illegal Arab construction around here for fear of Arab violence!”

 

At 2:50, the video shows the children’s “playground” inside Beit Yehonatan, as it is not easy for the children to go outside and play, and at 3:18, the camera focuses on the extraordinary view of the Temple Mount from the roof of Beit Yehonatan.

 

“You can see the Shiloah pool below, and the City of David, and above them the Temple Mount, and Mt. Zion to the left,” the guide says. “We are actually the human buffer between the Temple Mount and the PA-controlled Abu Dis neighborhood, making sure that Jerusalem does not fall into foreign hands.”

 

At 4:10, the proliferation of illegal Arab construction is seen, particularly two giant Arab apartment buildings: “The builder, Ahmed Sheikh, fled because of his heavy debts, but not before he managed to keep adding on floors to these buildings by asking for delays on the stop-work orders against him… And now no action has been taken against these monstrosities.”

 

At 5:10, the camera shows some of the original Yemenite Village buildings, and at 5:36, the sound of Torah study is heard on the backdrop of the nearby muezzin’s call.

“I can’t understand why people sometimes ask me why we insist on living here,” the man says. “This is Jerusalem, a neighborhood full of Jewish and Zionist history, and with G-d’s help we will remain here, grow stronger and expand further.”

 

In 2004, INN's Yoni Kempinski filmed a joyous "return" of descendants of the original Yemenite settlers to their grandparents' homes: