On Sunday 19th July, at approximately 12 noon, the Hannoun family were due to be evicted from their house in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem, as part of the ongoing Israeli strategy of ethnically cleansing the Palestinians from the capital of any future Palestinian state. The Israeli government had promised to send their army, but we were waiting with an army of our own…
As the deadline approached, we gathered outside the house with a huge crowd of Palestinian, Israeli and international activists, press from Al Jazeera, BBC, The Guardian, Ctrl.Alt.Shift and much more, as well as diplomatic figures from the UN, EU and consulates representing nations from around the world. The message was clear, painted on a banner erected on the front fence of the house…
“WE WILL NEVER LEAVE OUR HOMES”
…and the whole world is behind us. When noon arrived, many photos were taken, handshakes given, but the police didn’t show. Neither did they turn up that night, for which the family and activists stayed awake for the duration of, the worry of eviction taking it’s toll.
So the Hannouns are still at home for the time being. Nevertheless, and despite the considerable objections of Obama’s American government, the racist Israeli leader Netanyahu seems determined to throw this innocent family onto the streets. In a speech issued on the very same day, he made his plan to drive the Palestinians out of East Jerusalem pretty clear:
“Unified Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people and the state of Israel. Our sovereignty over it is unquestionable.”
This is a complete lie – no country on Earth recognises Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem, the unquestionable capital of Palestine. The next day, I was resting in the bedroom of the house when I heard the sixteen year-old daughter of the family crying, broken under the intense pressure of the constant threat that her father will be arrested, and her home stolen. I have heard the statements of various politicians time and time again, but why isn’t she quoted in the news? This is the brutal side of the Occupation, the sheer human suffering, that the leaders of the world are so keen to conceal from us. Only from living with the family do I feel that I can understand a portion of their pain.
As Nadia Hannoun, the mother of the family, told us the next day:
“This is not a life.”
Sleepless nights are followed by tense days, followed by more sleepless nights. The family are here legally, and have lived in this house since 1956, so why is this tragedy looming over their heads? Why is there no furniture in the front room? Why is Maher Hannoun denounced as a criminal for defending his family and his home, whilst the criminal Occupation of the Zionist regime goes unpunished?
We stay awake with the family in a show of solidarity, determined to de-arrest Maher and block the doors when the eviction happens, but we know that in truth, we will be powerless. In such operations, the Israeli forces typically bring 300-500 policemen. Nevertheless, we will try to resist, as the families have been for the last 37 years. And counting.