Jewish set­tlers take over homes in Arab neigh­bor­hood of Jerusalem

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY MIRIAM BERGER

Ul­tra-na­tion­al­ist Is­raelis took over a four-story build­ing in the heart of an Arab neigh­bor­hood in east Jerusalem on Thurs­day, rais­ing fears of fresh vi­o­lence in the tense area.

A small group of ac­tivists from the Ateret Co­hanim set­tler or­ga­ni­za­tion moved into the run­down white stone build­ing. It was the latest in a wave of set­tler ad­vances since na­tion­al­ist Jews be­gan buy­ing up prop­er­ties in densely pop­u­lated Pales­tinian ar­eas two decades ago.

The build­ing is lo­cated in Sil­wan, a run­down neigh­bor­hood that is home to sev­eral hun­dred Jewish res­i­dents and some 50,000 Pales­tini­ans. Is­raeli sol­diers were guard­ing the latest wave of set­tlers.

“I have 11 peo­ple in­side the house, where should I go?” said Jawaf Abu Sneineh, the only Pales­tinian res­i­dent who has still re­fused to va­cate the build­ing. He said he al­ready paid the year’s rent.

Abu Sneineh said his chil­dren were afraid of the Jewish set­tlers sud­denly liv­ing above them.

Is­rael cap­tured east Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Mideast war.

It sub­se­quently an­nexed east Jerusalem in a move that is not in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized. The Pales­tini­ans claim east Jerusalem as the cap­i­tal of a fu­ture state. East Jerusalem, par­tic­u­larly the Old City and its sen­si­tive holy sites, is of­ten a flash­point of vi­o­lence.

Sil­wan is ad­ja­cent to the Old City, and Is­rael has de­vel­oped an area there called the City of David, where Jewish tra­di­tion holds that King David es­tab­lished Jerusalem as Ju­daism’s cen­tral holy city.

Jewish real es­tate deals in the con­tentious Sil­wan area have long been murky. Pur­chases are of­ten made through in­ter­me­di­aries, which those in­volved says pro­tects the Arab sellers from be­ing at­tacked by their neigh­bors. Many cases end up in court, with Pales­tini­ans claim­ing the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and le­gal process are bi­ased in fa­vor of set­tlers.

Ateret Co­hanim says it legally pur­chased the prop­er­ties. Pales­tinian res­i­dents say they are be­ing un­fairly evicted and il­le­gally bul­lied into leav­ing.

Daniel Luria, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Ateret Co­hanim, said there are now about 100 Jews liv­ing in five build­ings in the Batan al-Hawa area of Sil­wan, where the set­tlers moved in on Thurs­day.

Ten­sions were high as male res­i­dents and chil­dren loi­tered in the streets, dis­cussing the latest ac­qui­si­tion.

Ab­dal­lah Abu Nab, a res­i­dent, said Jewish set­tlers had been both­er­ing him and his brother for weeks, fil­ing evic­tion or­ders that can lead to fines and of­fer­ing money to try and force them out.

Jerusalem’s Arabs, while free to live wher­ever they want, say they of­ten en­counter re­sis­tance or dis­crim­i­na­tion when try­ing to buy or rent prop­er­ties in Jewish ar­eas in the city.

Past takeovers have led to clashes and vi­o­lent Pales­tinian demon­stra­tions.

AP

A man is seen from a win­dow as Is­raeli flags fly on top of a house in Sil­wan neigh­bor­hood of east Jerusalem, Thurs­day, Aug. 27.

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