One of the first houses Elad entered was Musa Abbasi’s house. The house lies next to the famous “Warren’s Shaft”. Elad’s founder, David Be’eri, impersonated a tourist guide and gained Abbasi’s trust by bringing groups of tourists to his house. Residents friends of Abbasi remember that Abbasi saw in David Be’eri, who brought tourists to purchase his lemons, a true friend. Be’eri collected information about the property in his visits and used it in a legal procedure to declare most of Abbasi’s house “Absentee Property”. This means that the legal owner lives in an enemy state and that, according to the Absentee Property Law, the state of Israel can confiscate the property without compensation. It appears a contract was signed between the state and Elad without a tender and without Abbasi’s knowledge, and so, in the dead of night in October 1991, Elad’s people entered the house and removed Musa and his family.Elad’s people in Abbasi’s house, October 1991
In the first years, Elad gained control on several additional properties in different means:
1. Properties were located by Elad and declared “Absentee Property” according to affidavits written by Elad’s people. Then they were confiscated and transferred to Elad without a tender and in return for minimal fees. For instance, Abbasi’s house was transferred this way. The court ruled that the house was declared absentee property based on a perjured affidavit.
2. Properties owned by the Jewish National Fund before 1948 were transferred to Elad without a tender and in return for minimal payment.
3. Purchasing of properties from local residents using middlemen. Residents who knew these men, say that they have used dubious means and pressure in order to achieve the deal.
A special report (Klogman) from 1992 that was commissioned by the state to investigate the methods of property-transfer in East Jerusalem, showed that some of the means to transfer properties to the hands of settler organizations who operated in East Jerusalem were ineligible.
By the mid-90s, Elad had managed to transfer to its control only several properties. The turning point was in 1997, and it is explained in the next section.