Arab Squatter Leaves, Police Block Jews’ Entry

Arab squatters agreed to leave a Jewish home in Jerusalem, but police intervened.

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Maayana Miskin,

Jerusalem home
Jerusalem home
Aryeh King

A Jewish home-owner finally took possession of his property in Jerusalem on Thursday after a 35-year wait. The process was almost made longer by Jerusalem police, who attempted to block access to the home even after Arab squatters had agreed to leave.

The story began with the home’s purchase by a Jewish buyer 35 years ago. The buyer found that two Arabs had taken up residence in the property, which is located in the biblical Givat Shaul, adjacent to what is now the Beit Hanina neighborhood. He remained unable to evict them for decades.

Eight years ago Jerusalem activist Aryeh King got involved, and brought the matter to court. After a lengthy legal battle, judges ruled that the squatters must leave by late 2011. However, when the time came, the planned eviction was postponed in order to avoid a disturbance during a meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and United States President Barack Obama.

In 2012, after police failed to set a new date for the eviction, King gathered volunteers and made his way to the site to evict the residents himself. Volunteers were armed with cameras, and planned to film the event to prove that no violence had been used.

Before they could reach the building they were blocked by police.

King decided to contact the Arab squatter’s lawyer, and was surprised to learn that the squatters had promised not to make trouble, and had even contacted police and told them they would leave peacefully. In fact, one of the squatters had already left. However, “The police didn’t believe it, and didn’t let us go in,” he said.

The squatter was paid to leave, King implied, telling Arutz Sheva, “We’re not embarrassed to admit that we offer financial compensation, and are willing to part with large sums of money even when they don’t deserve anything. It helps keep the area quiet.”

On Thursday morning Jewish activists finally took control of the home. They hope to do the same in the case of a second Jewish-owned property nearby, and ultimately to create a Jewish neighborhood that will be home to dozens of families.