'Batan al-Hawa, Occupied East Jerusalem - Over the years, Israeli settlers have repeatedly offered Zuheir Rajabi and his neighbours millions of dollars for their modest homes stacked on the hillside of Silwan's Batan al-Hawa, a neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem.
The homes are in what is known as the Historic Basin of the Old City and in proximity to the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque, making them prized possessions.
A Jewish settler once offered Rajabi a blank cheque for his house, asking him to write any figure he chose, from 3m to 30m shekels ($800,000 to $8m).
But for Rajabi and 700 other neighbourhood residents - who are now facing eviction - no amount of money could make them part with their homes.
"They thought that in 30 days the people would give up their houses," Rajabi said, standing on the roof patio of the neighbourhood’s community centre, overlooking the valley.
"The people here are very simple. They have only one thing, which is honour. We don’t mind living in poverty or in bad conditions, but we just can't handle losing our honour," said Rajabi, who is also the spokesperson for the Batan al-Hawa Committee.
A large number of Batan al-Hawa residents have been there for over 70 years, many after being expelled from their ancestral homes as Israel proper was being established.
Residents now face another expulsion with a Jewish settler organisation, Ateret Cohanim, trying to wage what Ir Amim, an Israeli NGO, calls the single-largest takeover of a Palestinian neighbourhood in East Jerusalem since Israel occupied it in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.'
Read more: Palestinians battle home evictions in East Jerusalem's Silwan
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15 July 2019
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