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Israeli settlers displace Palestinians in East Jerusalem neighbourhood

Israel's policy of allowing Jewish settlers to displace Palestinian families in Jerusalem has been called an attempt to 'Judaise' the city
Spray paint on a door in the Silwan neighbourhood of East Jerusalem reads "Silwan is for the Arabs" in Arabic, above "Here is Silwan" in English (Graham Liddell/MEE)

Israeli settlers accompanied by police forcibly evicted at least nine Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem's Silwan neighbourhood on Monday, local media reported.

A community organisation in the neighbourhood told the Palestinian news agency Maan that Israeli forces and settlers surrounded two houses belonging to a Palestinian family before ransacking the property and kicking nine people out.

Israeli forces attacked resident Abdullah Abu Nab with pepper spray while evicting him and three members of his family, Maan reported. Five members of Sabri Abu Nab's family - relatives of Abdullah - were also made homeless as a result of the raid.

The right-wing Israeli settler group Ateret Cohanim claimed that the area housed a synagogue before the creation of the State of Israeli in 1948, and that the Palestinian family had built homes on the property without obtaining a proper permit, the Maan report said. 

Israel rarely issues building permits for Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem or in Areas B and C in the West Bank - a policy many Palestinians consider an effort to "Judaise" the areas by preventing Palestinian construction while Jewish settlements grow.

Israeli courts have issued a number of eviction orders against the Abu Nab families in Silwan, Maan reported.

According to a local community centre, the eviction of the Abu Nab family is part of a plan to take over some 5,000 square meters of land in the Batan al-Hawa area of the Silwan neighbourhood. The Ateret Cohanim group claims the area once belonged to Yemenite Jewish families.

Maan reported that the Batan al-Hawa area is home to some 80 Palestinian families in over 30 apartments.

Israeli settlers have been gradually moving into the Silwan neighbourhood for several years, leading to tensions and clashes between Palestinians and settlers in the neighbourhood

Today, some 500 Israeli settlers live in Silwan among 45,000 Palestinians. 

Also on Monday, Israeli radio reported that authories approved preliminary plans for the al-Issawiyya neighbourhood of East Jerusalem to be blocked off from the rest of the city with cement blocks and barbed wire, Maan reported.

And on Sunday, Israeli forces began installing a concrete wall to separate the Palestinian neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir in East Jerusalem from the Israeli settlement of Armon Hanatziv.

Around 550,000 Israeli settlers live in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.

Israel's military occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognised abroad. The government has named Jerusalem Israel's "eternal, undivided capital," but Palestinians consider its eastern sector the capital of a future state.

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