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Land and Space

The Takeover of Part of the Rifka El-Kurd Family Home in Sheikh Jarrah

Rifka El-Kurd resists Jewish settlers taking over part of her home in Sheikh Jarrah on December 1, 2009

A group of Israeli Jewish settlers accompanied by armed guards and police surrounded the Rifka El-Kurd family home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah and forcibly took over a section of their house on December 1, 2009.


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On December 1, 2009, as shown in this video, 15 to 20 Israeli Jewish settlers, accompanied by armed guards and Israeli police, entered and took control of a part of the home of the Rifka El-Kurd family in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. The group proceeded to empty the home of its contents, throwing furniture and the family’s personal belongings out onto the yard. The family was not present in this section of the house in compliance with a previous court order; however, local sources reported that the settlers also attempted, on several occasions, to gain entry to the rest of the house. One Palestinian resident, Khamis al-Gawi, was arrested. Two international activists, American and Swedish nationals, who were filming the settlers taking over the house were also arrested by the police, and their video cameras were confiscated.

At the time, Rifka El-Kurd commented, “The settlers are not living in my house permanently. They come in groups, dance, pray and swear against us. Then they leave again, and others come after a while. I can’t see what is going on inside the house because they covered all the windows with cardboard and Plexiglas. I can’t go close to the house, because there are cameras all around and the police would come if I tried to. We often are physically attacked: They sent my daughter, who is aged 50, to the hospital four times. They know she has heart problems, and they always hit her close to her heart. Once, if it had not been for a neighboring doctor who rushed and helped her, she would have died.”1

This forcible expulsion was just a small episode in a complex and very long-running saga affecting nearly 30 families in the neighborhood. And this is only one of the many neighborhoods where the authorities and the settlers are forcibly expelling Palestinians from their homes.




UN-OCHA, “50 Stories of Palestinian Life Under Occupation,” originally published in UN-OCHA, East Jerusalem: Key Humanitarian Concerns, Special Focus, March 2011, 61. 

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