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Rally in Silwan protesting Israeli practices

Dec. 24, 2010 5:18 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 26, 2010 12:07 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) – Palestinians and peace activists from Israel and abroad rallied Friday in the Silwan neighborhood of Jerusalem protesting settlements and other Israeli procedures there and in the Old City.

Demonstrators denounced practices of the Israeli government and settlers against Palestinians. Participants marched in the neighborhood reaching a protest tent in the Al-Bustan neighborhood where they held speeches.

One of the main speakers was Adnan Gheith, the secretary of Fatah movement in Silwan and a member of the committee to defend Al-Bustan. He affirmed that the population would continue to struggle until they reversed Israel's decision to expel him from Jerusalem.

The Israeli military ordered him out of the city for four months for allegedly organizing protests against Israeli settlement there, the army and media said Thursday.

Gheith, 34, has 14 days in which to appeal the order and has said he plans to do so, a military statement said.

It said the army received "security and intelligence information linking Gheith with activity liable to cause a breach of public order within the city of Jerusalem."

The banishment order is based on a rarely used emergency statute from 1945, when Britain ruled Palestine prior to the establishment of Israel in 1948. It was often used against clandestine Jewish groups battling the British.

The military statement did not detail the suspicions against Gheith but the daily Haaretz said that he had been arrested several times for allegedly encouraging violent protest against Israeli security forces in Silwan.

The rundown neighborhood next to the walled Old City has been the scene of sporadic clashes that peaked in September when an Israeli security guard shot dead a local man he said attacked him.

At the heart of the conflict is a plan by Jerusalem city council to build a new biblical tourism park called the King's Garden, which would involve demolishing 22 Silwan homes it says were built illegally.

Palestinian residents are also angry at the continued presence of an illegally built seven-storey building housing Jewish settlers, despite a 2007 Israeli court order for its demolition.

AFP contributed to this report.
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