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Settler organization takes over Silwan building

May 6, 2015 1:31 P.M. (Updated: May 7, 2015 11:17 A.M.)
The Abu Nab home in Silwan was taken over by settler group May 6, 2015. (MaanImages)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli settler organization Ateret Cohanim took over a building comprising three apartments in the central quarter of the Silwan neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem Jerusalem Wednesday morning.

The building was the former property of Palestinian family Abu Nab, while Ateret Cohanim claims it as Yemenite Jewish property prior to 1948.

Some 20 Jewish settlers escorted by special Israeli forces stormed the neighborhood and accessed the Abu Nab building while the family members were away, according to the Silwan-based Wadi Hilweh information Center.

Accessing the building through a nearby settlement outpost known as House of Honey, "they opened the main gate, then they broke open the apartment doors."

All members of the Abu Nab family had left the building on Tuesday afternoon to visit relatives in northern Israel, the Wadi Hilweh Center said.

Clashes broke in the area between the settlers and neighbors and relatives of Abu Nab family in Silwan at the time.

Neighbors telephoned the homeowners, Ahmad, Nasser and Muhammad Abu Nab, who headed immediately to the neighborhood. The three were allegedly stopped and interrogated by an Israeli police patrol "before contact with them was lost."

The Abu Nab family has been living in the building since 1968 after they rented the property from Palestinian Abd al-Razzaq family.

Israeli organizations including Ateret Cohanim and Elad claim that the building was formerly a Jewish synagogue before 1948, and that the Palestinian family had changed its features and turned it into a residential building adding new structures to the building.

An Israeli police spokesperson did not immediate respond for comment.

Israeli forces accompany settlers moving into the home of Palestinian family Abu Nab in the Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem on May 6, 2015.

'Forced exile'

Wednesday's takeover comes amid ongoing home takeovers by Jewish settlers often occurring with Israeli officials' consent, leading to repeated clashes in an already tense neighborhood.

The organization in charge of the most recent takeover, Ateret Cohanim is a not-for-profit organizing aiming to create a Jewish majority in the Old City and occupied East Jerusalem. The group is one of several organizations that legally buy out or illegally take over Palestinian properties in the area in order to increase the number of Jewish residents of primarily Palestinian neighborhoods.

Such organizations are often assisted and protected by Israeli forces during the process of taking over and moving into homes, the Israeli Ministry for Housing and Construction paying a record high of 100 million shekels ($26m) for private security to protect Jewish residents in 2014 alone.

Private security contractors work in cooperation with and sometimes supplant Israeli military and police, protecting Jewish settlers at the expense of Palestinian residents, according to human rights group Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

While Jerusalem has witnessed rapid expansion of housing for the city's Jewish population, Palestinians are subject to home demolitions and face potential for residence revocation if out of the city for over seven years.

Since 1967, Israel has revoked the residency rights of more than 13,000 Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem. The US State Department 2013 Human Rights Report stated that "continued Israeli revocations of Jerusalem identity cards amounted to forced exile to the occupied territories or abroad."

The report added that "In both the West Bank and Jerusalem, Israeli authorities placed often insurmountable obstacles in the way of Palestinian applicants for construction permits," making Palestinian growth near impossible.

Recently re-elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to build thousands of homes for Jewish settlers in occupied East Jerusalem, in order to prevent any territorial concessions that would lead to the establishment there of a Palestinian capital.

Israeli forces accompany settlers moving into the home of Palestinian family Abu Nab in the Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem on May 6, 2015.

Israeli forces accompany settlers moving into the home of Palestinian family Abu Nab in the Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem on May 6, 2015.

Israeli forces accompany settlers moving into the home of Palestinian family Abu Nab in the Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem on May 6, 2015.

Israeli forces accompany settlers moving into the home of Palestinian family Abu Nab in the Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem on May 6, 2015.
Comments
Ben Alofs / UK/Netherlands
These Jewish colonists come as thieves in the middle of the night breaking numerous laws and are assisted in this by the State of Israel with its rubberstamp "Supreme Court". This shows what a rogue state Israel is and the extent to which the Palestinians lack any form of protection.
06/05/2015 16:12
Jon / USA
The settlers claim the right of return to land/houses that they may or may not have owned while the Palestinians get nothing in their bid to get back lands taken through expulsion in 1948. Disgusting lack of morality, justice, or reason by Israelis supported by the US.
07/05/2015 15:37
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