27 August 2105 Maan News
(Wadi Hilweh Information Center)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Jewish settlers on Thursday morning took over a building in the Batn al-Hawa area in the Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, claiming the building was sold to the far-right Jewish organization Ateret Cohanim, locals told Ma'an.
The Silwan-based Wadi Hilweh Information Center said in a statement that more than 60 settlers stormed Batn al-Hawa in the center of Silwan at 2:30 a.m. and took over a building belonging to Jamal Sarhan.
Israeli troops escorted the settlers, who brought their belongings with them as they moved into in the building.
The settlers then barred the windows before they raised an Israeli flag on the rooftop.
The five-story building, according to the statement, consists of 12 apartments. The settlers took control of four floors.
One Palestinian Jerusalemite tenant refused to evacuate his apartment, and as a result the settlers failed to take over the last of the five floors.
Earlier this month a lawyer representing Ateret Cohanim reportedly issued evacuation notices for three Palestinian buildings owned by the Sarhan family in Batn al-Hawa, claiming that the land on which the homes are built belong to three Jewish men from Yemen who lived there before 1948.
It is yet unknown if Jamal Sarhan's building was one of the three from the previous case.
The five-story building is now the seventh and biggest settler outpost in Batn al-Hawa. The first was created in 2005 and is known as Beit Yonatan.
Settlement watchdog Peace Now said Wednesday that although the Israeli government claims that it is not involved in settler takeover of the home, the government could prevent the illegal takeover by not providing armed protection to settlers upon their entrance.
'Under the radar'
Attempts to take over the properties are part of a bigger plan by Ateret Cohanim to seize 5,200 square meters (56,000 square feet) in the central quarter of Batn al-Hawa, the Wadi Hilweh Center told Ma'an.
The land in question houses around 300 Palestinians, or 80 families, living in more than 30 buildings, according to the center.
A few days before the evacuation notice for the three buildings was issued, another Palestinian family received an evacuation notice from the same organization
The chief of a local committee representing the Batn al-Hawa area, Zuheir al-Rajabi, told Ma'an that Ateret Cohanim “has been working on displacing the residents of the area.”
In a controversial move last year, Ateret Cohanim secretly bought and renovated a building in the heart of occupied East Jerusalem near the Damascus and Flowers gates of the Old City.
The building was turned into the Ateret Cohanim Jerusalem Torah Learning Center, where groups of students from pre-army academies around Israel are brought in on learning retreats.
Following the purchase, emails between Ateret Cohanim and its supporters were leaked to Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, detailing the organization's plans for the future.
In one of the emails, the group's executive director said the purchase was "the first acquisition of its kind, in the area, which is in the heart of the commercial Arab district of Jerusalem" and said the group's work was "being done quietly under the radar."
Israel issues demolition order for mosque in East Jerusalem
22 August 2015 Maan News
A picture shows a Palestinian flag fluttering in front of buildings in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.(AFP/File Ahmad Gharabli)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli municipality officials delivered a demolition order Friday to the al-Qaaqaa Mosque, a house, and a studio apartment in the Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, local sources told Ma'an.
Majdi al-Abbasi, from the Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan, said that Israeli municipality members delivered a demolition order to the al-Qaaqaa mosque in the Ein al-Luza area of the neighborhood.
The mosque, built three years ago, is a 110 square meter space that serves 5,000 worshipers.
Al-Abbasi added that the Israeli municipality also delivered a demolition order to a studio apartment and its facilities. The studio belongs to Iyad al-Abbasi and was built 12 years ago.
A demolition order was also delivered to a home housing six people.
Earlier this week an Israeli court ruled to demolish a football field and its facilities in Silwan, a local committee said.
The ruling includes the demolition of a 1.5 dunam (.4 acre) sports field as well as a neighboring warehouse and animal shed.
Silwan is one of many Palestinian neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem that is seeing an influx of Israeli settlers at the cost of the demolition of Palestinian homes and eviction of Palestinian families.
Israeli authorities have carried out around 370 demolitions of Palestinian property in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank since the start of 2015, displacing an estimated 432 residents, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Thousands of Palestinian residents are at risk of losing their homes, as members of the current right-wing Israeli government continue to champion longstanding policies to obtain a Jewish majority in East Jerusalem.
East Jerusalem was occupied by Israel in 1967 in a move never recognized by the international community, and four decades of Israeli policy in the area have neglected the Palestinian community while fostering the growth of Jewish settlement.