The Palestinian presence in the Old City of Jerusalem and the surrounding neighbourhoods of the city’s occupied east is “under mounting pressure”, according to Israeli NGO Ir Amim.
In a new statement issued yesterday, Ir Amim highlighted two evictions carried out last week in the Old City and Silwan.
On 3 October, Jewish settlers took over a two-unit building in the Wadi Hilweh section of Silwan, displacing two Palestinian families – seven people, including two children.
According to Ir Amim, “the site includes a sizeable empty lot that could be used to facilitate tours to the future underground tunnel that will run between the Siloam Pools and the Kedem Compound, future headquarters of Elad”, a settler-run organisation that runs the “City of David” site in Silwan.
Meanwhile, in the early hours of 4 October, settlers also took over a two-storey building (three units) “at a strategic junction in the northern section of the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, just one block from the Haram Al-Sharif”, a takeover “executed by the Ateret Cohanim settler organisation”.
The context for the evictions, Ir Amim says, is “a well-integrated programme of evictions and touristic settlement carried out by private settlers with direct backing of the state, along with wide scale demolition threats and use of national parks as a political tool to thwart Palestinian community development while boosting private settlement inside Palestinian neighbourhoods.”
Over a roughly 30-year period, Elad has taken over a total of 75 homes in the Wadi Hilweh neighbourhood of Silwan, occupied East Jerusalem, in addition to its management of “City of David”.
In Batan Al-Hawa, “aided by the Israeli General Custodian”, Ateret Cohanim “is in the unique position of waging a singular, large scale takeover in a Palestinian neighbourhood”, which Ir Amim calls “the most significant settler takeover since Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967”.
Overall, Ir Amim states, there are now “roughly 2,500 private settlers embedded in the hearts of Palestinian neighbourhoods” in occupied territory. A further 180 Palestinian homes are under threat of eviction in East Jerusalem, mostly focused in the Old City and adjoining neighbourhoods.