Amanda Klonsky has informed PULSE that Yonatan Shapira has sent the following account of events unfolding at the Kirresh family home in the Muslim Quarter in Jerusalem. Settlers from the fanatical group Ateret Cohanim have taken over the home of a Palestinian family of more than 50 people. The Settlers are being protected by Israeli police, who guard the door while the Kirresh family sits outside in the street with no protection.
It is close to midnight and I am standing outside on a narrow street in the Muslim Quarter, very close to Herod’s Gate. We are standing in front of a very big house on As-Sadyya Street. The Kirresh family has lived in this house for seventy-four years. Close to fifty people live in the apartments inside this two or three story house.
Last night the Kirresh family went to a cousin’s wedding in East Jerusalem. They came back from the wedding and found out that Settlers from Ateret Cohanim had come with the police and taken over their house. About thirty young male Settlers are in the house, and it is completely occupied by them, except for one apartment that is still being held by the one family member who just didn’t go to the wedding. That family member is still inside the house, in his room! The Settlers are in the other rooms– it’s a big house, maybe two or three floors, and they are just walking around inside, sitting around and singing, as if all these Palestinian people were not outside looking at them.
The whole atmosphere is like theater- it’s a beautiful street, the houses are built of stone, it’s so old and majestic. And the police are guarding the door, making sure that the Settlers can continue to stay in the house. Standing close to the door, I overheard the conversation between a police officer and Settler inside the house. I heard the police officer saying to one of the Settlers, ‘We are on your side, we are here to protect you.’
Aside from the Kirresh family, a few members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and Israeli BDS activists joined in standing witness outside the house. People are sitting on chairs, leaning on the walls out in the street. A child is sleeping under a blanket here next to me, and there are women and babies. They are all waiting for a court decision. Basically, the Settlers came and literally stole the house, and now the place is being guarded by the police so the residents of the house cannot go in.
On Friday morning, we intend to return with many more activists, to support the Kirresh family in regaining their home.
From Kirresh family member, Sulaiman:
Last night there was a wedding in the family, and when the people came home they found that the settlers had already entered by force with the police, with no court ruling. We managed to get a court order to evict them and the police refused to evict them. Then we got a second court order, the police refused again. Now we have to wait until Sunday when we can go to court again.
By that time our nine families who live in the building will have had no place to sleep for four nights- fifty people in total, women and children, staying in the street outside of their house. There was only one family who didn’t go to the wedding, and they are still inside.
This extended family has been living in this house with their parents since 1936, for seventy-four years, they are the owners of the house, so they are protected by the law, and should not be evicted by anyone.