Jerusalem24– On the outskirts of Jerusalem’s Old City, Silwan is a predominantly Palestinian town in East Jerusalem. The town was gradually integrated into Jerusalem from the 19th century onwards until it became an urban district. Silwan fell under Jordanian authority after the 1948 war. Jordanian rule lasted until the 1967 Six-Day War, during which Israel took control. Silwan currently falls under the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem Municipality.
The Jerusalem Law, a fundamental law in Israel, included East Jerusalem (of which Silwan was a component) into its declared capital city of Jerusalem in 1980. The international community considers the action illegal under international law, while the Israeli government denies this.
The Israeli government has collaborated with the right-wing settler group Ateret Cohanim to evict Palestinians living on land previously classed as heqdesh (land promised to a temple) or not, mainly in Silwan’s Batan el-Hawa neighborhood.
In 1987, Jordan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations wrote to the Secretary-General to inform him of Israeli settlement activity; his letter noted that an Israeli company had evicted the occupants of two Palestinian houses in the neighborhood of al-Bustan, also known as King’s Garden, and claimed the houses as its own. Since then, the City of David (Wadi Hilweh), a Silwan neighborhood next to the Old City’s southern wall, and its neighborhood of al-Bustan have been a center of Jewish settlement.
For years, Palestinian residents of Silwan and the surrounding neighborhoods of al-Bustan and Wadi al-Hilweh in East Jerusalem have been threatened with eviction. Currently, there is a crisis of the imminent eviction of 19 families in Silwan’s Batan al-Hawa.
The Jerusalem law works against the 19 families by favoring settlers through permitting only Jews to claim property they held before 1948, while denying Palestinians the same right. Most families in Silwan have lived in their homes for up to 60 years.
The Najah and Kayed al-Rajabi families, two of the 19 households, filed an appeal with the Jerusalem court early on Wednesday, May 26th. Regarding the current crisis in Silwan, Kayed al-Rajabi had this to say. “They evicted us from our homes in Jerusalem’s Old City in 1965, and now they want to displace us again.” Unfortunately, the appeal was heard, but the court decided to postpone its decision.
The judges decided to hold off on making their judgment until the Supreme Court rules on a similar appeal against other eviction orders in Silwan. The Supreme Court will only hear that case in December. Thus the postponement announced Friday effectively delays the second Silwan case into next year.
Palestinians who refused to accept the verdict at face value demonstrated in the streets of Silwan, where they were confronted with violent attempts by Israeli security forces to silence the rally. Demonstrators have been beaten, and children, like the 16-year-old Sultan Sarhan, have been arrested.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken advised Israeli officials this week that continuing to evict Palestinian families from East Jerusalem risks reigniting “tension, conflict, and war.” Israel’s adamant determination to carry out the evictions has resulted in a slew of human rights abuses.
The director of the Maps Department at the Association for Arab Studies in Occupied Jerusalem, Khalil Tafakji, told Jerusalem24, that the Israeli occupation is carrying out an ethnic cleansing process within a different Israeli policy, using the Jewish myth or as Jewish property before 1948. This is within a clear strategy that applies in three cases The first is the encirclement of the neighborhood with settlements, then the process of penetration in the sense of establishing outposts inside the Palestinian neighborhoods, then the dispersal process, which is the process of converting Palestinian homes into mosaic houses inside the Jewish neighborhoods.
Tafakji says that the town of Silwan started with the case of Wadi Hilweh neighborhood, then with the Bustan area . There are more than 50 houses that were taken using the Absentee Property Law, registered as Jewish property before 1948. As for the eastern side, Silwan a settlement outpost consisting of 160 housing units was established in Ras al-Amud considering it as Jewish lands registered before 1948. Then, between 1948-1967, this area was annexed by the Absentees’ property custodian. He pointed out that “the Jordanian government had established a body called the Guardian of Absentees’ property ,for managing it, and it does not have to be Jewish property.”
He indicated that the lands of the town of Silwan and the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood are not endowment lands, and this is a point that lawyers must pay attention to according to the law. There are differences between the monopoly and the endowment, as the monopoly ends after 99 years within three conditions: either renewing it, paying the price of the existing buildings, renewing the contract, or ending the entire region.
Tafakji said that the process of ethnic cleansing in the Batn al-Hawa neighborhood took place on the grounds that it is a Jewish property. Laws and legislation are always in the service of settlements and its settlers. “The focus is on this area, which amounts to about 50 dunams, it comes within the eastern region of Silwan town, meaning that the expansion process will start from the eastern part and then will meet the western part of the Wadi Hilweh , the Bustan , and the Biblical Garden located in the Silwan town.