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20 Mar, 2015

Backed by Israeli troops, Jewish Fanatic Settlers Take over Property in East Jerusalem Neighborhood

JERUSALEM, March 18, 2015 (WAFA) – Armed Israeli settlers Wednesday took over a Palestinian property in East Jerusalem’s town of Silwan as well as two plots of land which belong to two different Palestinian families.

Protected by large Israeli troops, armed settlers broke into Silwan and occupied a building, which houses four apartments, that belongs to al-Malhi-Faraj family, and tens of dunums that belong to al-‘Abbasi and Sha‘ban families.

They are all located in the Wadi Hilweh neighborhood of Silwan flanking the southern wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound and standing nearby ‘Ir David’ (City of David), a large archeological site.

The Wadi Hilweh Information Center reported that settlers invaded early morning the Wadi Hilweh neighborhood and took over four apartments; which they emptied from furniture, changed door locks and shut the windows closed.

Israeli police cordoned the neighborhood off in advance, preventing Palestinian residents from approaching the property. A quarrel took place between Palestinians and the Israeli police, during which police physically assaulted and briefly detained Muhammad al-Malhi, 13.

A Palestinian activist was also detained by police for taking photos and filming the building, was identified as Director of Wadi Hilweh Information Center Jawad Siam.

The center noted that Elad right-wing settler group, an organization that oversees ‘Ir David’ and is dedicated to facilitating Jewish settlers’ settlement in Arab East Jerusalem, managed to take over the property after a member of al-Malhi-Faraj allegedly helped them forge ownership documents.

This was not the first time that Elad group attempted to take over this property in specific. The first attempt by this settler group to take over al-Malhi’s property occurred during 2007, turning it into the focal point of a battle of law suits in Israeli courts.

The Elad group claimed that al-Malhi-Faraj family is an unprotected tenant and that the property belonged to the Custodian of Absentee Property. However, the property originally belongs to al-‘Abbasi family who has been living overseas long time ago.

According to the center, Israeli courts issued rulings in 2012 affirming that the property belongs to al-Malhi-Faraf family.

This incident coincides with another where settlers accompanied by Israeli police attempted to take over a house in Aqabat al-Khalidiya in Jerusalem’s Old City, claiming that the house belongs to a Jewish family and that Jews have the right to live in it.

Even though the Sub Laban family is renting the property as protected tenants, which according to the law gives the tenants certain privileges such as protection from eviction orders even after the contract has elapsed, they remain in danger of being evicted.

The duality of Israeli policies and measures against Palestinians in Jerusalem remains one of the biggest issues facing them in the Old City. When Israel took over Jerusalem in 1967 it evicted thousands of Palestinians in addition to the thousands of others who fled out of fear.

Israeli courts largely support efforts by Jewish settler groups to expel even more Palestinians from their homes to make room for new Jewish settlements.

According to a Ma’an news report on the same issue, “while an Israeli Jew can petition a court to evict a Palestinian family in a home that belonged to Jews prior to 1948 in East Jerusalem, a Palestinian cannot petition a court to evict a Jewish family in a home that belonged to Palestinians prior to 1948 in West Jerusalem.”

On the other hand, armed settlers also took over two plots of land. The first which covers an area of 500 meters square and has been used as children playground, meanwhile the second occupies an area of 1,200 meters square.

Settlers proceeded to set up caravans on the two plots of lands after being leveled by Israeli bulldozers.

Silwan has been the target of a systematic colonial campaign from Israeli authorities and settlement groups with the purpose of fully controlling Palestinian owned-buildings, the obliteration of Arab Palestinian identity and the displacement of Palestinian residents.

According to the Wadi Hilweh Information Center – Silwan, the residents remain fearful of the ongoing threat posed against them and their ownership of land in light of the so-called Antiquities Authority policy which reserves the right to raid land that belongs to Palestinians to carry out excavation work.