Saturday 4 July 2009

'Self Appointed' mission to 'reclaim' Jerusalem

Arye King is an Israeli settler on a self-appointed mission from God: to extend Jewish ownership over the whole of Jerusalem.

Armed only with a crash helmet and a list of properties which, he says, belong to Jewish owners, he travels by motor scooter around the Jerusalem area, posting eviction orders against Palestinians who believe they are living lawfully in the disputed homes.

On the day we join him, his mission takes him to Beit Zafafa, a Palestinian neighbourhood in the south of the city.

The first target on his hit list: a hilltop Bedouin community whose goats are grazing on land which King asserts belongs to a Jew.

"There is an eviction order against these people who are living here," King says.

"They are Bedouins coming from the south mountains of the Hebron area. They are not even Israeli citizens.

"They are not Israeli residents, of course. They are here illegally in Jerusalem and especially they are squatting on a property that does not belong to them."

Next stop: a Palestinian school where Arye King has decided to give the children a lesson in history – or at least, his version of history.

Tucked into the front panel of his scooter, he has a pile of leaflets in Arabic which he leaves on a low wall in front of the school.

"The leaflet here is a few sentences from the Qu'ran, chapters from the Bible, explaining to the young children where they are living," he says. "They are living in the land belonging to the Jewish nation."

The leaflet also encourages Palestinians to think about leaving the country and offers help in finding work and accommodation in other countries - a kind of ethnic cleansing, but delivered with a velvet glove.

Arye King is not alone. All over occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli settlers are making serious inroads into Palestinian neighbourhoods, particularly those close to the Old City.

In Ras Al Amud, a second phase is being added to a Jewish settlement that was established in 1992. The new block consists of more than 60 apartments and will bring hundreds more Israelis into the area.

Just to the north, settlers have moved into an apartment block in the Mount of Olives. They have raised a huge blue and white Israeli flag from their rooftop to send their Palestinian neighbours a none-too-subtle message as to who is in charge.

Read complete article here.

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