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Illegal Jewish settlements continue to spread in occupied East Jerusalem

A pro-settler group is continuing with its efforts to spread illegal Jewish settlements in occupied East Jerusalem. Ateret Cohanim, reported Haaretz on Thursday, has obtained a court order to evict a Palestinian family from a building that the organisation now controls in Silwan, near to the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa.

Several weeks ago, the organisation filed a request to evacuate other Palestinian families living in the area as it tries to seize more Palestinian homes. More recently, it applied for licences to build a three-story building in Silwan and widen the road leading to a Jewish settlement inside the neighbourhood, Haaretz explained.

Ateret Cohanim has been active for years, making provision for Jewish settlers in Jerusalem and Silwan neighbourhood. Its activities revolve around taking control of the area of Batan Al-Hawa in Silwan, which it claims was home to Jews of Yemeni origin more than a hundred years ago. In this context the group seized the Beit Yonatan building, which was built without a licence and is now inhabited by 10 Jewish families. It has also placed another family of Jewish settlers in the Bait Hadvash building, according to Haaretz. "About two months ago," added the newspaper, "Ateret Cohanim took over half of the so-called Abu Nab building, named for the extended family that lived in it, and which once housed a synagogue for the Yemenite community."

This settlement effort complements that of the Ir David Foundation (aka Elad), which focuses its activities in the so-called "City of David" near the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Critics have asked why the Israeli government and the Israeli-controlled Jerusalem Municipality say that it is illegal for Palestinians to live in "unlicensed" buildings but acceptable for Jews to be there.

Israel is engaged in the Judaisation of Jerusalem. Evicting long-term Palestinian residents and revoking their residence permits is part of the ethnic cleansing process that has been ongoing since the state of Israel was created on Palestinian land in 1948.

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