Jewish residents of Jerusalem with the help Israel Land Fund’s Councilman Aryeh King moved into a newly reacquired property in Jerusalem’s Shimon HaTzadik/Nachalat Shimon (Sheikh Jarrah) neigborhood Monday morning. After a tense and sometimes violent morning with Arabs throwing rocks and firebombs on the new residents , the area calmed down. The Arab family who had lived in the residence were pulled out after an Israeli court saw clear evidence they were in fact squatting in what was a Jewish property before the Jordanian army chased the home owners away in 1948.
Rabbi Ben Packer of the Jerusalem Heritage House said the following about the new property and court decision:
“The recent reclaiming is a very positive step but way overdue. Its time for the Israeli Government to allow real development in Shimon HaTzadik/Nachalat Shimon for the rightful Jewish owners, as they have for the Arab owners. That’s real Israeli sovereignty and basic fairness.”
Until 1948, west of the road linking Sheikh Jarrah, the American Colony and Mt. Scopus, was the neighborhood of Nahlat Shimon. The name is a reminder of its closeness to the Cave of Shimon HaTzadik. The neighborhood was founded in 1891 and was home to hundreds of Jewish families. Just before the British Mandate ended in 1948, security in Nahlat Shimon deteriorated considerably and its residents were evacuated to the Israeli side of Jerusalem. The Jordanians took control of the neighborhood and settled “Palestinian” Arab refugees there.
With one house now firmly back in Jewish hands, the many more houses stolen from their original Jewish owners may find themselves returned as well.