A right-wing Israeli settlement group has confiscated money raised to help a Palestinian family facing eviction from their home in Jerusalem.
The Elad Association is a notorious right-wing group which works to encourage Jewish settlement in the Silwan neighbourhood of Jerusalem, located just outside the Old City and Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. It also runs the City of David archaeological site in Silwan, regularly working to evict Palestinian families from the neighbourhood to further these ends.
One of these families targeted by Elad is the Siyam family, who have been battling against the group for 25 years to remain in their family home. Parts of the building were seized by the state under Israel's Absentee Property Law – which declares properties belonging to Palestinians who were displaced, often by war or poverty, as "absentee" and therefore state property. These parts of the family home were then sold to Elad.
Now Elad is confiscating money raised to help the Siyam family fight their evacuation order. According to a report by Haaretz yesterday: "Elad has obtained a lien on tens of thousands of shekels that 241 activists donated for the Siyam family, on the grounds that the family owes it money."
A lien gives an organisation or group the right to keep possession of a property until a debt owed by the owner of said property is paid. However, in addition the lien obtained by Elad "requires an Israeli crowdfunding site, IsraelGives, to freeze the bank account where the money raised to help the Siyam family is deposited".
Haaretz explained that, last month, the Jerusalem District Court rejected the Siyam family's final appeal to remain in their home, ordering them to vacate the building. Before the hearing, activist Uri Erlich launched a crowdfunding campaign asking for donations to finance the Siyam's legal battle, so far raising over 38,000 shekels ($10,600) from 241 donors.
Although the fundraising site IsraelGives opposed the lien in court, it was eventually forced to accept the legal ruling. The thousands of dollars intended for the Siyam family are therefore understood to be in the hands of Elad.
Palestinians from Silwan have been targeted by a number of schemes to forcibly evacuate them from their homes. Last month, Israeli human rights organisation Ir Amim disclosed that there has been a "recent burst" in settler-run "tourism" projects around Jerusalem's Old City, many of which have focused on Silwan. Ir Amim argued that these initiatives contribute to "blurring the Green Line" – the armistice line implemented after the 1948 war – and are used "as a means to further tighten the band of settlement activity around the Old City and its environs".
The NGO also pointed to the planned Jerusalem cable car and a recently-constructed promenade between the West Jerusalem Cinemateque and one of Elad's new developments in Silwan as two examples of projects entrenching Israel's control over Jerusalem and the displacement of Palestinians in the process.
"The abovementioned developments are part and parcel of measures being employed to facilitate seamless and attractive access from West Jerusalem to settlement sites scattered throughout Silwan," Ir Amim added.