For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
(We had a very exciting Erev-Shabbat. B"H, we all managed to walk away reasonably intact.)
(IsraelNN.com) The final tally after an elderly Jewish man attempted to serve an eviction notice to Arab squatters on his Jerusalem property on Friday:
* Two Jewish men hurt by large Arab-hurled rocks, one in the head and one in the chest; * one man in his 60’s who spent the Sabbath in prison after he shot in the air in an attempt to protect himself and those around him; * press reports blaming the Jews; * and a possible eviction of the illegal Arab residents later this month after 17 years of legal wrangling.
The incident began on Friday morning when Yitzchak Herskovitz, 78, arrived at his property in southern Jerusalem, between Givat HaMatos and the Arab neighborhood of Beit Tzafafa. The purpose of their visit: to serve a court-ordered eviction notice to the clan of Arab squatters illegally occupying the property. Herskovitz was accompanied by several others, including his lawyer, two armed men for protection, and a woman video-photographer for documentation.
Courts Rule in His Favor, Yet Arabs Still Remain
The Arab clan, known as the Salahs, has been found by two Israeli courts to have illegally taken over Herskovitz's property, and to have brought false evidence in the course of attempting to prove their own ownership. Despite these rulings, years of legal wrangling by the Arab clan have enabled them to continue to reside on property not theirs – nor have they totally fulfilled the court’s condition that they pay $250 of monthly rent to a third-party account.
“It’s been over a year that they have not paid,” Herskovitz told Israel National News, “and finally the courts realized that this basic condition has not been fulfilled, and ordered the eviction.”
To Herskovitz’s dismay, the eviction notice must be served not by the police or other state officials, but rather by himself. “I knew it would be difficult,” he said, “but it was much more than I bargained for.”
"They Knew We Were Coming"
Mordechai, a 63-year-old who came with Herskovitz, recounted: “Somehow the Arabs seemed to know we were coming, and as soon as we got there, there were about 20 or 30 of them waiting for us, and started pelting us with large rocks. Our car was heavily damaged, the windshield was smashed, and I realized that the people with me, including my wife, were in danger of their lives. So I shot in the air two or three times – and that enabled us to get out of there.”
But this was not the end. The Arabs apparently called the police, who took off after the damaged car – and arrested all the occupants, including Herskovitz. A lawyer from the Honenu civil rights group was quickly alerted, and his intervention helped achieve the release of all of them shortly before the Sabbath – except for one: 63-year-old Mordechai who had fired in the air in a built-up area.
“It’s a pretty frustrating thing,” Mordechai said afterwards, “to find myself in a position where I have to fire in the air to protect my own people in my own land, and the official police investigator, instead of showing minimal understanding, tries to trip me up and say things to incriminate myself.” Mordechai immigrated to Israel from a Western country six years ago.
“I told the investigator that I had absolutely no regrets," Mordechai recounted, "and that I would do the exact same thing again, in order to protect myself and others… This is a part of the Land of Israel that Arabs are trying to steal away from a Jew.”
After being taken away in leg-irons and spending the Sabbath in prison – a first for him - and after his wife was forced to desecrate the Sabbath and bring him medicines that he required – “I was taken to a judge at 6 PM, and the judge agreed that I shot in self-defense and to protect others. I guess he realized that a 63-year-old man with a pacemaker is not looking to fight a mob of Arabs for no reason… I was released on my own recognizance, with the only condition being that I cannot return to the area for 30 days; that’s OK, I can live with that.”
His gun was also taken away from him. Police promised to return it to him, but past experience shows that this could take months.
"My Bullets Don't Just Scratch"
The Arabs claimed, and some English-language media reported as fact, that four of their number were hurt. But the accused said, “I shot in the air, as the video shows, and the Arabs lied and claimed that I hit them. One Arab said he was shot in the hand, but the police agreed with me that had my hollow-point bullets hit him, his hand wouldn’t have been scratched; it would have been blown off. That’s why I was released.”
Yitzchak Herskovitz, for his part, is up in arms: “I told the court that the police won’t help me, so the judge told me I should hire armed guards. So I did that, and now the police take away his gun! What’s going on here?”
Herskovitz says he plans to file a police complaint against the Arab squatters: “They smashed the car’s windshield, and wanted to kill me and the others with me.”
Though the Arabs crumpled the eviction notice, threw it on the floor without reading it, and then threw it back at the Jews, the woman’s video documents that they received it – and the eviction is scheduled for Nov. 26. Though past eviction notices have not been executed, it is therefore at least theoretically possible that Yitzchak Herskovitz might actually get to live on the piece of Land of Israel that he innocently bought so many years ago. Related: We Defeat Ourselves - JTA Blows the Call .
I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"