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Israeli forces raid Silwan, deliver demolition orders

April 16, 2016 6:10 P.M. (Updated: April 17, 2016 3:44 P.M.)
A view of Silwan neighborhood to the south of the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem. (MaanImages/Killian Redden, File)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces on Saturday raided Silwan and delivered demolition orders to two Palestinian-owned buildings amid a surge of demolitions in the occupied East Jerusalem area, locals said.

Member of a Silwan-based committee formed to fight such demolitions, Fakhri Abu Diab, told Ma’an that inspectors from the Jerusalem municipality accompanied by armed forces delivered the orders to owners who have already forged long legal battles in Israeli courts in efforts to protect their properties.

Of those slated for demolition included the home of Yasin al-Rajabi, said Majdi al-Abbasi of the Wadi Hilweh Information Center.

Al-Rajibi’s home was built 20 years ago and houses eight family members, who now face imminent displacement. Israeli forces also delivered a demolition order on the home of Muhammad Talal al-Hleisi in Bir Ayyub area.

Both properties were reportedly built without Israeli-issued construction licenses.

The Silwan area has come under heightened presence of Israeli military forces over the past month, in what Abu Diab said is seen by residents as an attempt to “create tension and insecurity” among locals.

Abu Diab estimated at least 18 Palestinian families are currently at risk of displacement due to recent demolition orders.

Abu Diab slammed the Israeli authorities for intentionally delivering demolition orders on Fridays and Saturdays -- typical days of rest for many Palestinian residents -- and preventing access by locals to the neighboring Al-Aqsa Mosque for midday prayers.

The Wadi Hilweh center said Silwan resident Abd al-Karim Shyoukhi meanwhile received a demolition order for his car wash on Friday, delivered by Israeli forces who took photos of all people and vehicles present at the time of the raid.

The center added that the livelihoods of three Palestinian families rely on the commercial establishment.

Silwan residents -- like most Palestinians in Jerusalem -- have long engaged in efforts to prevent their displacement by the Israeli government, which has aimed to establish a Jewish majority since Israel first illegally occupied East Jerusalem in 1967.

Palestinians' ability to build homes or expand existing structures legally is severely limited by the Jerusalem municipality, and more than 3,000 Palestinian structures have been demolished since 1967, according the PLO Negotiations Affairs Department.

The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in February said the Israeli authorities were escalating demolitions in Silwan in particular, and the Israeli National Council for Planning and Building recently approved a massive building project planned by Israeli settlement organization Elad in Silwan.

PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said the approval was a clear sign that Israel was "deliberately isolating Jerusalem from its Palestinian environs and indigenous people and transforming it into an exclusively Jewish city."
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