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Israeli settlers force Palestinian residents out of property in Silwan

Oct. 3, 2018 4:02 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 4, 2018 11:24 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli settlement group Elad reportedly took over a Palestinian-owned property in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on Wednesday.

The Wadi Hilweh Information Center reported, in a statement, that dozens of Israeli settlers raided a Palestinian-owned building in the Wadi Hilweh neighborhood of the town, under armed security by Israeli forces.

The center added that the property belongs to the Fatiha family, who currently live in the United Stated; Israeli forces, however, forced tenants of the building from the Maswadeh family to evacuate.

The Maswadeh family has rented the property from its original owners for 30 years.

The center's statement added that the property consists of two houses, each of a 160-square meter square area, in addition to an 800-square meter area land planted with olive trees and figs.

Israeli settlers set up poles in preparation to installing a gate to the property.

Members of the Maswadeh family who attempted to enter their property were forced out.

The family told the center that Israeli settlers forced them out of their houses without allowing them to evacuate their belongings.

The family added that they, 7 family members including 3 children, have resided the property for 30 years, paying rent to the Fatiha family.

The Maswadeh family said that the Fatiha family informed them that they have sold their property to settlers several months ago.

Jerusalem's governor Adnan Ghaith, who arrived at the scene, said that "no one has the right to act with lands and properties of Jerusalem City; there are Arab Islamic properties, today's takeover of property and forcing out its residents is the work of gangs and mafias by support of a government that supports settlement across Palestinian lands."

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The Elad groups is a strong force in the Israeli settler movement in East Jerusalem, with Elad leading a takeover of 25 buildings in the neighborhood of Silwan in 2015, which constituted the largest incursion of Israeli settlers into a Palestinian neighborhood in the past 20 years, according to the the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ).

Also known as the Ir David Foundation, Elad aims to "rediscover and preserve the Biblical city of David," in an effort to connect Jews to their Biblical roots through tourism, archaeological excavation, and "Judaizing Jerusalem" by buying out homes in Palestinian majority neighborhoods.

There are an upwards of 300,000 Israeli settlers residing in East Jerusalem, with at least 500 living in Silwan among a population of 45,000 Palestinians.

The presence of Israeli settlers in occupied Palestinian territory is considered illegal under international law according to the Fourth Geneva Convention, a fact reaffirmed in a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel's settlement policy which passed in December.

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