Tel Aviv activists rally behind elderly Jewish 'squatter'

Activists protest demands Esther Loyan leave her home of more than 50 years: 'Retroactively legalize her home, like in Judea, Samaria.'

Yoni Kempinski,

Neighborhood leaders for Esther
Neighborhood leaders for Esther
Yoni Kempinski

Activists in Tel Aviv gathered Sunday to express their support for 70-year-old Esther Loyan, who has been ordered by local authorities to vacate her home of more than half a century by Monday morning.

Loyan is being sued by the city's development authority as a "squatter", despite the fact that she has lived for over 50 years in her home in the Abu Kabir neighborhood of Tel Aviv.

Loyan's house is an old Arab house abandoned in 1948 when local Arabs fled Abu Kabir - a village founded near the city of Jaffa in the 1830s.

"Esther and her family do not have a registered claim on the property," activists admitted, "but the method to regulate the property was concealed from residents. Now the state is taking advantage of the situation to define all residents of the area as 'squatters' and to remove them from their houses and properties that they have lived on for some 70 years."

"The state is acting cruelly and has demanded that Esther to leave her home without any compensation," activists said.

With the founding of the state, immigrant families were settled with state approval in abandoned Arab villages on the outskirts of existing towns under difficult conditions," the activists added, stressing that "the state is responsible for not recognizing the rights of these residents to the land. The state torpedoed every attempt on their part to regulate their rights.

"We have come today to Esther's house to say to her: Esther, you aren't alone. The residents of the neighborhoods have had enough of cruel evictions and expropriations. Your eviction will not happen. We will all stand together with you to stop this crime and to ensure that you are compensated according to the value of the house and land you are forced to leave after more than 50 years residence. This is how we will stand from now on in every neighborhood against any threat of eviction without proper compensation."

"We see that when it wants, the state knows well to regulate the land," said Ronit Aldubi, one of the leaders of the struggle. "We support the residents of Judea and Samaria where the state makes efforts to regulate their status on the ground. The state doesn't stand by us and we are going to war."

"We saw the efforts by the government and by minister Uri Ariel to regulate the Bedouin residents in the Negev with alternative lands and generous compensation," said campaign leaders. "The same was true of the kibbutz and moshav movements who received full ownership of the land after Kahlon made a historic agreement with them, so that they can grow and thrive and raise their fourth and fifth generations peacefully."

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