Abdel Halim lives as a prisoner, within dark rooms that sun does not reach, behind bars and high walls. But this is not a prison, it is an Israeli military compound and one of the hundreds of militarized settlements Palestinians must deal with on their own land. Abdel Halim lives in his Silwan neighborhood home near the Al Aqsa Mosque surrounded by several houses seized by Israeli settlers. The 35 year old's house is under the same threat.
“I have lived nearly my entire lifetime in this house that is owned by the Samreen family. They live in Amman. In 1990 the settlers got a court order that used the 'absentee property law' of the Israelis to make us leave immediately so that they could take the house. I informed the family in Jordan immediately and they returned to Palestine and went to the Israeli controlled court in Jerusalem. That was in 1990 and to this day the case is still pending.”
Abdel Halim indicated that the neighbors are difficult, to say the least. “These are strangers who are overtaking our original homeland, Palestine, yet they claim they lived in our houses 3,000 years ago in Silwan and that we seized their property and their homes.”
The Jerusalemite continued. “If the only harm the settlers did is talk, that would be one thing. But their aggression reaches my children who have been humiliated and beaten. And they beat drums in the public square where the Arabs live for four hours a day to inconvenience the people and then they are loud all night with the protection of the Israeli police. If we have a religious ceremony we must be cautious that we are not attacked and we must take into account the well-being of the settlers.”
Abdel Halim told PNN, “My children are prevented from playing outside the house or even from going to the shop nearby so as not to be subjected to the humiliation of the settlers. What leaves negative psychological affects on my kids and the neighborhood children are the Israeli soldiers who are heavily armed to 'protect' the settlement outposts in Silwan. The children live in a landscape of weapons that are trained on them. This creates fear and panic.”
Abdel Halim also told PNN that the Israeli government offered him money to sell-out Palestinian land. “The amount is half a million dollars for leaving the house, but I would never accept no matter the amount. This place is sacred, if only for the sanctity of Al Aqsa.”
Due to the proximity of Al Aqsa Mosque the Silwan neighborhood is hot property to the Israeli government in its bid to overtake Jerusalem. Abdel Halim is asking for help on behalf of the city from anywhere. “How long can the Palestinians of our holy city be steadfast under this type of duress without some support. If something does not change we will be erased from the history books.”