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Jerusalem Municipality Not Evicting Poverty Squatters

June 12, 1980
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About 40 slum families have pitched tents and are building concrete and brick homes on State owned land south of Jerusalem in violation of the law. But the Jerusalem municipality made it clear today that it is in no hurry to evict the squatters.

“We will not pull the government’s chestnuts out of the fire,” a municipal source said. The families, who call themselves “Ohelim” — literally tent dwellers — say they are modeling their action on the Gush Emunim. But their motivation is neither religious nor ideological; it is their way of alleviating the acute housing shortage that has plagued Jerusalem for years without any effective relief from the government.

The municipal source agreed that “The housing shortage and scoring housing prices are a national problem” and the Jerusalem authorities will not help the government by quashing this latest demonstration against it. The municipality indicated, however, that it would adhere to the normal legal process once the Israel Lands Authority, which owns the plot of wasteland in the Katamon slum quarter, initiates formal proceedings against the squatters.

The illegal building effort is being financed by independent MK Samuel Flatto-Sharon, a millionaire who had been accused of election irregularities after he won a Knesset seat in 1977. This has created discord among the squatters, some of whom would prefer to do without Flatto’s largesse.

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