Bahr, an Al-Quds lawyer, says Israel is using fictitious real-estate front-firms based in Arab countries to buy Palestinian property in the city.
AL-QUDS -- Mohammed al-Tamimi’s family has been living in the Old City of Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem) since time immemorial.
He says that his lineage goes back to Tamim al-Dari, a companion of Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessings be upon him), who arrived from the Arabian Peninsula and settled in the Al-Khalil region around 650 A.D.
"Without the slightest exaggeration, I can solemnly testify that my roots in this land are deeper than the roots of 99.99% of Israeli Jews, the very people who are now claiming we don’t belong here and who are trying to expel us from this land, our land," he told IslamOnline.net.
Pointing to his home, Mohammed said agents of the Israeli government have been trying desperately to convince him to sell it to Jewish settlement interests for a hefty amount of money.
"A nice-looking man, dressed in an elegant business suit, knocked on the door, saying he wanted to drink a cup of coffee with me," he recalls.
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"He said he would pay a million dollars if I agreed to sell him my home. He said we didn’t have to leave the home now and that we could stay ten more years," added Mohammed.
"He also stressed that he would swear by God to keep the matter secret until after I die."
Mohammed was deeply infuriated by the man’s audacity.
"I really would have beaten him had it not been for the Arab customs of showing respect and courtesy to guests. He was in our home after all," said the Palestinian man.
"But I told him that our religion and honor and dignity were not for sale."
Mohammed says Arabs had settled in Al-Quds and Palestine hundreds of years before the Khazar tribes converted to Judaism in around the 8th century.
"These people claim to be connected to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They have no connections with these prophets, neither biologically, nor even religiously," he contended.
"These settlers are White Europeans, just look at their faces, the color of their skin. Does Ariel Sharon or Ehud Olmert look like a Semite, or even Middle Eastern?"
Palestinian families divided by the separation wall also lose their Al-Quds residency rights. (IOL photo).
Tamimi is one of thousand of Palestinians who have been struggling to keep their property in the face of a vicious Israeli campaign to take over Arab property and land in and around Al-Quds.
The campaign is fueled by hundreds of millions of dollars donated by wealthy Jews around the world and also by the Israeli government which has been trying to Judaize the holy city and obliterate its Arab-Muslim identity.
Bassam Bahr, an Al-Quds lawyer, has been monitoring Israel’s illicit tactics of seizing Arab real estate in the city and surrounding localities for many years.
He says Israel is now heavily using fictitious real-estate front-firms to purchase Palestinian homes and property.
"Some of these firms would even bear auspicious Islamic titles to ensnare potential sellers. And they would offer to pay attractive sums of money exceeding real market price."
In recent years, Israelis have been using front real estate firms based in some Arabic countries.
"Some gullible and unsuspecting people would think that the last thing a Jordan-based real estate firm would do is to serve as cover for Israeli settlement interests," said Bahr.
"Eventually, the truth is exposed but after the ownership of the home or plot of land in question is transferred to an Israeli. Then the front-company is liquidated and those involved disappear or immigrate."
Israel has also been seizing the property of "absentees" on the ground that the state is the proprietor of property that has no proprietor.
But in many cases, notes Bahr, the absentee is not really absent but lives a few hundred meters from his property and all that separates him from it is the gigantic separation wall Israel has erected around Al-Quds.
"They would tell the rightful owner that since your property is located inside the city and your place of residence is outside it, it means that yours is an absentee property. And when the case reaches the court, the judge normally rules in favor of the state," says Bahr, the Al-Quds lawyer.
"The judge, who often happens to be a Jewish settler, is actually an enemy. So, how can one possibly hope to obtain justice from a judge who is actually an enemy?"
In some cases, Israeli agents would convince, by way of blackmail or financial seduction, a member of a certain Arab family to sell his/her part of the family property.
"In any country, a family member who only has a small share of a given real estate has no right to sell the entire property without the consent of the rest of the family," notes Bahr.
"However, in Israel, the signature of only one family member, even if he/she happens to be mentally unstable, is sufficient for the seizure of the family's property even though the other family members have no foreknowledge of the secret deal."
When all pretexts and excuses are exhausted, and all conceivable legal tricks and loopholes prove insufficient to defraud an Arab family of its property, Israel resorts to long-term plans.
This is exactly what happened with Mohammed a few years ago when he wanted to build another floor to his home to accommodate his newly-wed son.
"I applied for a license and waited more than three years for a reply from the Israeli authorities. And eventually, they told me that I couldn’t do it."
Mohammed says his son was forced to relocate to the nearby Abu-Dis neighborhood, an Al-Quds neighborhood not yet annexed by Israel.
But the story doesn’t end here.
Every few weeks agents of the Israeli Interior Ministry would stealthily come to inspect Mohammed's home to see if his son and his wife were still living there.
And when they eventually found out that he had moved to Abu Dis, they decided to recommend that his Al-Quds residency right be revoked.
"You see they are telling us that either we suffer silently or lose residency rights. This is the behavior of the state that claims to be the only democracy in the Middle East."