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Evicted Palestinians stand their ground – on thin mattresses

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The events in Sheikh Jarrah garnered international censure from the European Union, the United Nations (UN) and from Britain, which said it was "appalled" at the move. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday night called the Israeli evictions "deeply regrettable" and "provocative." Such a move "is not in keeping with Israeli obligations and I urge the government of Israel and municipal officials to refrain from such provocative actions," she said.

Who is responsible?

Neither the Jerusalem municipality nor any government office is taking responsibility for the incident, pointing instead to the courts. There, a decades-long battle over the houses has ensued, in which a group of Jewish families say they can show that their forbearers owned the houses here as far back as the late 19th century, when the area was administered by the Ottoman Empire. The Jewish families say they were forced to abandon the houses during a spate of Arab attacks in the area in the 1920s and 30s. In the war for Israel's establishment in 1948, the territory became part of Jordan.

In 1956, 28 Palestinian families who were refugees from Israel after 1948 were resettled in Sheikh Jarrah as part of an UN project to assist people made homeless in the war. The Hanoun family, who say they are originally from Haifa, was one of the recipients – and Maher Hanoun, Nadia's husband, was born in the house.

The story gets more tangled from there. Both the Israelis and Palestinians involved in the dispute say that they have Ottoman-era property ownership documents called which proves that they are the rightful owners. Palestinians say that the Hijazi family – who now live elsewhere in Jerusalem – can show they own the land. But the Jewish families, represented legally by a real estate group called Nahalat Shimon International also have Turkish papers they say prove the land is theirs.

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