Letter from East Jerusalem

I received this letter from Caroline Johnson who is currently in East Jerusalem;
Dear all,
Salaam and best wishes from Palestine.
Me, Mike, Ethan, Geoff and his mum Sally have been here for 1 week now and the rest of the group arrived 2 days ago. We started the organised tour yesterday and if I get the chance I will give you an update as often as I can.
There are 13 of us here, 6 from Walsall/Kobar and 6 from Birmingham/Ramallah and 1 from Malvern.
Yesterday we went to Jerusalem for the day. We started our day with a visit to Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem where zionists are trying to evict families from their homes. We met the families that we met in October and met the Al Kurd grandmother of 87 who now has the front part other house occupied by zionists. For details and the history of whats happening please see the families website at www.sheikhjarrah.com
On Wednesday evening the families got together to make a small playing area for the children in the front garden of the Al Kurd house. They cleared away broken glass thrown there by the zionists and planted some trees and shrubs, adding a swing and seesaw. They erected a protective fence around it to stop things being thrown at the children. The zionists tryed to destroy the garden in the night but the families stopped them. All of the children in the area are suffering psychological difficulties and changes in their behaviour since the evictions started to take place.The zionists that have stolen the houses are protected by the police and the soldiers who shout and swear at everyone, including the children however young. The soldiers harass the teenage boys and have taken them away for questioning in the middle of the night. What is amazing is the steadfastness of the families. These are their homes and they will not leave. They said to us that unless they are allowed to go back to their houses in Haifa and Jaffa that were stolen in 1948 they will not leave. They want us to raise this issue with our MP’s and let people know what is happening in the area.
We then went to the Al-Bustan Quarter in Silwan where the zionists want to evict 88 families from their homes and were told about the situation there. We have taken video footage that we can show you when we return and we have a booklet explaining the situation. As some of you know I have my son Ethan who is 11 with me. He loves it here and has made friends with lots of children already. We were both very angry and upsett when hearing about the tactices being used to try to make people leave Al Bustan. The houses are built on both sides of the valley so the soldiers are having difficulty removing people as it is easier for the residents to protect themselves. Because of this the soldiers concentrate on harassing and intimidating the children. Recently the soldiers came to Mousa’s house in the middle of the night and banged loudly on the door. He thought they had come to take him for the role he plays in opposing them but instead they wanted to take his son aged 10. The family and other residents managed to stop them but only after Mousa agreed to take his son to the police station the following morning. The next day they questioned him very aggressively for 6 hours continuously. Now his son is afriad to leave the house as are many of the young children of the area. Children in Palestine are routinely treated in this way and we were told that recently the yougest child to be actually imprisoned is just 12 years old.
Today we are going for a joint picnic in the Aboud valley with friends from all of the twinning groups in the Ramallah district. We will be discussing how to spread and strengthen twinning in both countries.
More soon……
Best wishes
Caroline Johnson
Secretary BRTI

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