Daily Israel Report

'We're Living in a State of Siege,' Says Jerusalem Resident

The residents of a property in the center of Jerusalem are forced to live in a state of siege because of attacks by their Arab neighbors.
By David Lev
First Publish: 10/27/2011, 4:08 PM

Yitzchak Hershkowitz's struggle to claim property he bought and paid for fairly and squarely was bumped up a notch this week, as he tried to pave a road to the home he bought at the entrance to the neighborhood of Beit Safafa in Jerusalem. not far from Jerusalem's Malcha shopping mall.

Hershkowitz has been attacked numerous times by Arabs who squatted on the property he bought in 1988, and it took two decades to remove the squatters who had illegally taken up residence at the site. Now, he is trying to pave a road to get to the site, but his Arab neighbors seem determined to stop him – one way or another.

Several weeks ago, Hershkowitz says, an Arab neighbor attacked David Geroni, who is living in Hershkowitz's house. Geroni tells Arutz Sheva that he is forced to live behind barbed wire, and has been threatened by Arabs who say they will kill him if they find him on the wrong side of the fence. A few weeks ago, he says, “I had to go to the emergency room. Three days later the police came and arrested the Arab who attacked me – and they arrested me as well.”

Geroni says he had done nothing to initiate the altercation – other than walk outside the barbed wire fence, “not on his property, but on public property. We live in a state of siege, the house and property are closed off with barbed wire and aluminum panels. It's very ugly,” Geroni says.

Beit Safafa is not in the outer reaches of Judea and Samaria, but in the center of Jerusalem – minutes away from the Givat Hamatos neighborhood. The village is fully within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, and ostensibly the municipality – and the police – should have full jurisdiction and power to act.

And yet, says Geroni, he, Hershkowitz, and the other residents of the property are stuck with numerous Arab squatters, whom the court allowed to stay on the property when it handed down the decision to evict squatters from the house itself. “They invade our privacy. It's very difficult to live a normal life here,” Geroni says, adding that despite the fact that the property is located in the heart of Israel's capital, “we still do not have our full rights as citizens and property owners.”