E. Jerusalem man slain after he sells building to settlers
The body of Mohammed Abu al-Hawa, 40, from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of A-Tur, was found in his burned-out car in the West Bank city of Jericho early yesterday morning. Police believe the murder was motivated by Hawa's recent sale of a four-story apartment building to Jews.
Palestinian police handed over Hawa's body to their Israeli counterparts, who transfered it to Tel Aviv's Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir for examination.
Relatives of the father of eight said that seven bullets were fired at his head and car before the vehicle was set on fire with Hawa inside.
Palestinian sources said he had also been beaten around the head.
According to Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, "It seems to be that he was murdered in connection with the selling of a property to a Jewish buyer."
Residents of A-Tur related that Hawa came home Wednesday night and said he feared for his life. At 3 A.M. yesterday morning, Ma'aleh Adumim police informed the family that his body was in their possession. Several members of the Hawa family have been questioned about the murder.
The building in question is one of three in A-Tur owned by the Hawa and Kiswani families that Jewish settlers began to occupy about two weeks ago. Jerusalem police officials say the buildings were purchased legally and there was no legal obstruction to their occupation. The three buildings, on the Mount of Olives, contain a total of 14 apartments in which Jews are now living.
The buildings were bought through Elad, a nonprofit organization working to purchase houses and settle Jews in Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.
This is the first time that Jewish nonprofits have succeeded in entering A-Tur, one of the largest neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.
After settlers entered the buildings on the day of Israel's March 28 Knesset elections, rioting broke out in the neighborhood and a restaurant belonging to a member of the al-Hawa family was torched. Mohammed Abu al-Hawa was also abducted to Ramallah for interrogation by Palestinian security forces.
In an effort to secure his release, the family then published an announcement in the East Jerusalem newspaper Al-Quds, claiming that the Hawa buildings were not sold to Jews directly, but to Palestinian buyers who in turn sold the property to a Jordanian investment company.
At the time, Mohammed Abu al-Hawa's brother Mahmoud told Meir Margalit of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions that some people showed up at his apartment in one of the two buildings, opened a suitcase full of cash and offered $300,000 for his apartment.
Mahmoud Abu al-Hawa said he declined, after which the unknown individuals showed him a contract stating that the two buildings had already been sold, including the apartment he lives in. He said that his mother's signature on the contract had been forged.
Violent confrontations took place in front of one of the buildings last week after settlers, guarded by Jerusalem police officers, forcibly evicted an Arab family who was living in one of the apartments. The Jewish family that replaced them left the apartment later, apparently after it became clear that it was owned by Arabs.