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Settlers take over Palestinian building, land in Silwan

March 18, 2015 9:07 P.M. (Updated: March 19, 2015 3:15 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Jewish settlers on Wednesday forcibly took over a Palestinian building and two plots of land in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem, a local group said.

The Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that Israeli forces, settlers and private security guards raided a building belonging to the al-Malhi family and took over three apartments, before changing the locks and removing all furniture.

Israeli forces cordoned off the property ahead of the move, with the settlers also taking over tens of dunams of land belonging to the al-Abbasi and Shaban families.

Muhammad al-Malhi, 13, was briefly detained following an argument with Israeli police while director of the Wadi Hilweh center Jawad Siyam was arrested for filming the incident.

The takeover was reportedly facilitated by the Elad settler organization after a member of the al-Malhi family helped forge the ownership documents, the Wadi Hilweh center said.

The settler group first tried to take over the property in 2007.

In September, settlers occupied 23 houses in Silwan and forcibly evicted the residents of an apartment. In October, two more buildings were taken.

East Jerusalem is internationally recognized as Palestinian territory, but Israel occupied it in 1967 and later annexed it in a move never considered legitimate abroad.

More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.

In recent years settler activist groups have focused their efforts on forcing individual Palestinian owners out of Jerusalem's Old City and the nearby Silwan neighborhood, which they call the "City of David" and over which they claim Jewish ownership.
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