Israelis Move Into Palestinian Family's Home After Court Backs Ownership Claim

After a judicial battle lasting 20 years, settlers moved into a room and courtyard in East Jerusalem; the rest of the house is still under the Palestinian family's ownership.

Israeli settlers moved into a room and courtyard in a Palestinian's family's home in the Ras al-Amud neighborhood of East Jerusalem on Monday morning, following rulings by courts and the bailiff's office that determined that the settlers own the 15 square meter room.

The Palestinian family holds that the move is part of a scheme to make their lives miserable until they are forced abandon the house altogether. Until this morning, a Palestinian couple and their child lived in the room.

The Hamdallah family lives at the edge of Ma'aleh Hazeitim, the largest settlement in Palestinian East Jerusalem, which is home to more than a hundred Jewish families.

The settlement was constructed on land purchased in 1990 by settler patron Irwin Moskowitz from Chabad and Vohlin Chassidic groups, who claimed the land after proving they purchased it before 1948. The Hamdallah family has lived in the building since 1952.

Moskowitz's representatives have waged a judicial battle to evacuate the Hamdallah family from the house since 1992, in order to enable the expansion of Ma'aleh Hazeitim.

Shlomo Lecker, the family's attorney, managed to prove a statute of limitations concerning most of the house, but in 2005, the Jerusalem District Court ruled that the family must evacuate parts of the house constructed after 1989.

After several more judicial turnabouts, the Bailiff's Office determined that the settlers are entitled to seize the room and the courtyard.

According to witnesses, the settlers plan to fence off the room and courtyard, separating it from the rest of the house.

A substantial police force secured the entrance to the room, but the event passed without any notable incidents.