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Extremist Israelis march through Silwan on Jewish holiday, smashing car windows

May 31, 2017 11:18 A.M. (Updated: May 31, 2017 11:07 P.M.)
(Source: Wadi Hilweh Information Center)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Tens of extremist Israelis stormed the Wadi Hilweh neighborhood of Silwan south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem early Wednesday morning, shouting insults at local Palestinians and vandalizing vehicles.

Photos published by local watchdog the Wadi Hilweh Information Center showed Israeli police officers and vehicles standing by as the crowd marched though the streets in the early predawn hours, to commemorate the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, which began on Tuesday and ends on Thursday.

Majd Gaith of the Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that dozens of “Israeli settlers” were shouting insults at Palestinian residents, throwing rocks at houses, and smashing the windows of cars parked on the streets, as locals attempted to stop them.
(Source: Wadi Hilweh Information Center)

Separately, the information center also reported that Israeli police raided the nearby al-Sawana neighborhood, east of the Old City, and detained three Palestinian youths for rock throwing.

An Israeli police spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment on either incident.

Last year during Shavuot -- which marks the day Jews believe God gave the Torah to the Jewish people while they were gathered on Mount Sinai -- nearly 20 vehicles were vandalized in Silwan during a similar march.

Silwan is one of many Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem that has seen an influx of Israeli settlers -- as the fate of Jerusalem at large has been a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades, with numerous tensions arising over Israeli threats regarding the status of non-Jewish religious sites in the city, and the "Judaization" of East Jerusalem through settlement construction and mass home demolitions.

Since the start of 2017, the UN has documented at least 26 incidents of property damage carried out by settlers in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the injury of 24 Palestinians due to settler-related violence.

The incidents came after ultra-right religious Zionists stormed the Old City in celebration of “Jerusalem Day,” known to Palestinians as the “Naksa,” meaning “setback,” referring to the mass displacement that accompanied the Israeli takeover of the Palestinian territory in 1967.

The succession of Jewish holidays also comes as Muslims celebrate the holy month of Ramadan, amid what Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary-General Saeb Erekat called ongoing “provocations” in Jerusalem’s Old City, where the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is located.

After the Israeli security cabinet held its weekly meeting in tunnels located underneath the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem, Erekat deplored the Israeli government for deciding to “mark 50 years of occupation (of East Jerusalem and the West Bank), and the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, by sending a clear message to the Palestinian people that the systematic violations of their inalienable rights are going to continue.”

The security cabinet meeting also came days after Netanyahu vowed that the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound -- known to Israelis as the Temple Mount -- and the Western Wall would “remain forever under Israeli sovereignty.”
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