Daily Israel Report

Arab Squatters Break Jerusalem Landowner’s Hand

Yitzchak Herskovitz, 80, had his hand broken when illegal Arab squatters attacked him as he arrived at his hard-won property.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 10/3/2010, 12:02 PM / Last Update: 10/3/2010, 12:15 PM

Ezra HaLevi

Yitzchak Herskovitz, 80, had his hand broken when illegal Arab squatters attacked him as he arrived at his hard-won property.

If the energetic Herskovitz ever thought that his Supreme Court victory granting him title to his Jerusalem property land after 18 years of legal struggles meant that he could move into his portion of the holy city in peace and serenity, he quickly realized his mistake.

It has now been five months since the High Court and police ordered the illegal Arab squatters off his property, and this is what he has to show for it: No electricity, blocked-up sewage pipes, no easy access to the property, a vandalized and unusable house, at least four rock attacks, and a broken hand.

Despite all, Herskovitz is not giving up, and is working on several fronts to make his property inhabitable.

The latest setback occurred just before the Sukkot holiday. “We arrived at the property to clean out the sewage pipes that my ‘kind’ Arab neighbors stuffed up,” he told Israel National News, “and found them [the Arabs] in a particularly foul mood. It's understandable: Not only had they just received eviction notices for the other nearby property on which they are squatting (the city apparently wants to pave a road there), but the Electric Company workers were also on hand laying wires to attach my house to the grid.”

A friend of Herskovitz, Elazar D., continues the story: “When we arrived, we found that they had also blocked off any access to the property. As we started removing the barbed wire and other stuff, they began yelling, cursing and throwing rocks at us. But when the father of the clan arrived, the violence really started. He ran over to Yitzchak with a big stick, hit him and knocked him to the floor, breaking his hand.

“They threw rocks at us and at the Electric Company workers,” Herskovitz said. “They were really going crazy… I didn’t even know that my hand was broken at first; all I knew is that one of my hearing aids fell out, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to get it back; they cost thousands of shekels a pair. But later, when the pain intensified, I went to the hospital, and X-rays showed that the bone was in fact fractured.”

The cast on his right hand will remain for another three weeks, preventing him from writing, holding objects and other manual tasks. But he is continuing his multi-faceted efforts to make his property inhabitable. This week, he expects to complete final preparations for the electric hook-up, there is running water, and an easement – the legal right to use public property for access to his own – is in sight. The property is located between two plots occupied by Arabs, with no direct access to a street; Herskovitz is attempting to pave a path, which he wants to name Orchot Tzadikim, the Paths of the Righteous.

Get the Illegal Aliens Out!
In addition, Herskovitz has been in contact with the police and the Interior Ministry to have the illegal squatters deported from Israel. “The police are simply not doing their job,” he protests. “The Salah clan from Bethlehem arrived in Israel years ago, after some kind of feud with another clan, which involved some killings. They were never granted permission to be here, and should be deported just like any other illegal aliens!”

The patch of land in question is located on the seam line between the Jewish neighborhood of Givat HaMatos and the Arab-populated Beit Tzafafa. Herskovitz gained title to his land after three different courts ruled that the Arab squatters’ “proof of ownership” had been forged.

All Part of Zionism
The squatter-neighbors have attacked various contractors who arrived to work for Herskovitz, who has alerted police and says they have been “partially helpful.” Amnon, the electrician who will make the final preparations this week for the electric hook-up, told Israel National News, “Yes, I am aware of the ‘challenging’ nature of this job – but it’s all part of Zionism…”

Incidentally, Herskovitz says he does not want any signatures or sketches on his cast – though he has made an exception for a special inscription-drawing by one of his long-time supporters and friends, Baruch Nachson of Hevron, who is known for his unique, colorful Biblical-style paintings.