Following last week’s eviction of the Palestinian Natsha family from their Beit Hanina home, Israeli Knesset members Michael Ben-Ari and Aryeh Eldad visited the house now inhabited by some eight settlers. To mark the occasion they posted a picture of themselves lounging on the Natsha’s sofa on Facebook.’We are at the start of the establishment of a new Jewish neighborhood in the area, which will create a continuous sequence of Jewish neighborhoods in northern Jerusalem,’ said Eldad to the settler online mouthpiece, Israel National News.
‘Only the stubbornness of the Jewish landowners and Aryeh King of the National Land Redemption Fund ultimately led to the achievement of the day and we are confident law enforcement agencies will be required from now on to remove Arab squatters from all the properties of the Jews in the area.’ Ben-Ari and Eldad ‘affixed mezuzahs’ inside of the house, ritualistically marking the takeover.
The Knesset ministers hope to Judaize Beit Hanina, though historically there have never been Jewish residents in this East Jerusalem neighborhood. On Facebook, Ben-Ari said the settlers will build 50 new housing units on the property.
Since 2004, settlers have tried to confiscate the Natsha family’s property. Part of the land had belonged to the Hebrew University, and in 2004 their shares were sold to the Palestinian Authority, despite a steeper counter offer from King.
Then about a year ago, King tracked down an alleged Jewish owner who he claimed purchased the land in 1974. King then presented documents to the Jerusalem municipality, though the Palestinian family said the papers were forged. Khaled Natsha called the magistrate a ‘settlers’ court,’ as reported by Haaretz’s Nir Hasson.
Yet the Natsha family states they have owned the land since the 1930s, using it first as a cement factory, later building three homes during the 1980s, according to Michael Salisbury with the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions who has visited with the Natsha family several times in the past few weeks.
Ben-Ari and Eldad are both members of the right-wing National Union party. Previously, Ben-Ari was a member of the now illegal Kach party.