Thursday, July 01, 2010

Jewish settlement in Silwan: eviction order

One of the sources of the tension in Silwan is the illegal settlement of Jews in houses belonging to Arabs. One of them is called Beit Yehonatan, and yesterday a Jerusalem court ordered the eviction of the Jewish settlers from the house: Settlers lose court battle against East Jerusalem eviction. Let's see if they actually get evicted - even when there are court orders against settlers, they often openly disobey, and the police or army find a way not to fulfill the court order.

Beit Yehonatan

From the Hebrew article, which is more extensive (my translation):
Residents of the contested house, from the organization Ateret Cohanim [which has been involved in moving Jews into Arab sections of east Jerusalem for over twenty years: RL] requested that the court defer the execution of the eviction and sealing order because of the new planning program that the Jerusalem municipality is putting forward for the area, in which it might be possible to give permission at least part of the building. However, the judge, Moris ben Atar, decided in his judgment that even if the planning program would give permission [retroactively, to make the building legal], the matter could take a long time, and even if the order for eviction and sealing were to be overturned, in that case it would be possible to reverse the sealing up and use the building again, if permission was in fact granted.

The spokesman for the residents of Beit Yehonatan responded to the decision of the court that "The residents of Beit Yehonatan intend to appeal the decision to the district court. In addition to that, according to the criteria that the the legal adviser of the municipality has set, Beit Yehonatan has been placed at the bottom of the priority list for enforcement [of the eviction] ...."

On the left, they called for fulfilling the eviction order as soon as possible. "The manipulations of the settlers, with the support of the city, time after time, in order to prevent [the eviction] render the court and its decisions powerless and injure democracy and the rule of law," said Joseph (Pepe) Alalu, member of the Jerusalem city council from the Meretz party. "Enough with the footdragging. They must fulfill the court order immediately, or Israel turns into a banana republic."

In the last week there have broken out severe confrontations between the settlers' guards and the Border Police and dozens of Palestinian residents in the area of Beit Yehonatan, especially next to the settlers' house next to Beit HaDvash. On Sunday the Palestinians reported dozens of injured from the confrontations, most of them from inhaling tear gas, which was fired, according to them, inside the houses. The police reported ten Border Police officers injured from stone-throwing.

The tension in the neighborhood is expected to rise further on Monday, because MK Ori Uriel (National Union) promised, in the name of the settlers organizations, that they will evict the Palestinian families who are living in the house next to Bet HaDvash. The building is the old Yemenite synagogue that was in operation from the late 19th century until the 1930s.
The area of Silwan was one of the neighborhoods where Jews began to settle in the late 19th century as they began to leave the Old City; most Jews moved to new neighborhoods that spread out along Jaffa Road, but small numbers of Jews settled in already existing Arab villages or neighborhoods, like Silwan or near the tomb of Shimon ha-Tzadik north of Damascus Gate. A Yemenite community grew up in Silwan, but the Jews were forced to leave in the 1930s because of the continuing hostility between Jews and Arabs during the late mandatory period, including the Arab Revolt of 1936-39.

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