Jewish presence in eastern Jerusalem expands

Arab squatters evicted from building owned by Jewish organization, following 25-year legal battle over the property.

David Rosenberg,

Silwan
Silwan
Photo: TPS

A two-and-a-half decade-long legal battle over a Jewish-owned building in eastern Jerusalem finally ended Wednesday morning, when Israeli police evicted Arab squatters from the property and transferred the building to its owners.

On Wednesday, Israeli police removed members of the Siyam family, and activists supporting the family, from a building they had illegally taken control of in the Silwan neighborhood of Jerusalem.

Officers removed the squatters, their furniture, appliances, and other property before transferring the building over to the Elad organization, which purchased the property years ago. At least one of the squatters was arrested for resisting the eviction, the Palestinian Authority’s WAFA media outlet reported.

The property, located in the Silwan (Shiloah) neighborhood of the capital, was purchased from the State decades ago by the Elad organization – an NGO dedicated to reclaiming Jewish property in eastern Jerusalem.

While Elad was the legal owner of the property, the eviction of the Arab squatters took 25 years of legal battles.

Three weeks ago, the Jerusalem District Court rejected the Siyam family’s final appeal against the eviction order.

In addition, the court ordered that 38,000 shekels ($10,600) raised on behalf of the Siyam family for their legal efforts be transferred to Elad, to cover years of back rent owed to the organization for the time the squatters occupied the building.

Today a predominantly Arab neighborhood, Silwan was home to a large Jewish community in the 19th and early 20 century. Most of the Jewish population was forced out, however, in the late 1930s by the Arab Revolt, with the remaining community barred from the area after Jordan occupied eastern Jerusalem in 1948 and seized Jewish-owned property.

Since the 1980s, a number of Jewish organizations have actively worked to restore the Jewish presence in Silwan and other areas of eastern Jerusalem seized by Jordan in 1948.




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