On Tuesday, in the al-Bustan area near Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem, the Israeli army began to dismantle a Palestinian company, and violence broke out.
The Israeli army, accompanied by bulldozers, entered Palestinian residential areas and destroyed a butcher shop in Silwan. The soldiers used tear gas and batons to repel the residents and Palestinian militants during the demolition.
According to the Palestine Red Crescent Society, at least four Palestinians were injured in the conflict.
Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett reported from Silwan that Israeli soldiers arrived in large numbers early on Tuesday and there was a “major confrontation”.
“We talk to family [that owned the butchery] They said that the Israeli army came in and attacked them with tear gas and other means-this was the violent beginning of these demolition operations. But this is not just a store. There are 20 other units in this block in the same situation,” he said.
Witnesses said that the Israeli army also fired rubber-coated steel bullets to disperse angry Palestinians. They called on residents to gather together to protect their homes through the mosque’s loudspeakers.
Occupying forces’ vehicles and equipment demolished a shop in Silwan, Al-Bustan neighbourhood, owned by Palestinian citizen Nidal Al-Rajabi, one of 20 houses threatened to be demolished by the occupation. pic.twitter.com/MjAk8JR6Sm
-New Media (@NewPress_en) June 29, 2021
On June 7, the Jerusalem city government issued a series of demolition orders to residents of the Silwan al-Bustan area.
There are about 130 people in the 13 affected families, and they have 21 days to evacuate and demolish houses on their own. If this is not done, the municipality will destroy the house and the family will have to bear the cost of demolition-estimated at $20,000.
“This is how it works in occupied East Jerusalem,” Fawcett said. “The family received a 21-day order stating either to demolish your own house after the order expires, or we will do so, and then charge you a fine of $20,000 for the trouble of having to demolish your house. “
He added that an Israeli law makes it difficult for Palestinian families to appeal Demolition order Before the court.
Demolition triggered by the Israeli occupation of Silvan #SaveSilwan
-Razan shawamreh (@RazanHamad10) June 29, 2021
Since 2005, residents of al-Bustan have been warned that they demolished nearly 90 houses under the pretext of unauthorized construction in support of an Israeli settler organization that tried to turn the land into a national park and Its and City of David Archaeological Zone.
According to the Palestinian non-governmental organization grassroots Jerusalem organization, house demolition and court-ordered forced relocation are tactics used to expel Palestinian residents.
In a statement earlier this month, the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq stated that Palestinians in East Jerusalem constitute the majority of the population, but “Israel’s zoning law has allocated 35% of the land area to Israeli settlers. Non-legal settlements”.
It said that another 52% of the land area has been “allocated as prohibited’green spaces’ and’unplanned areas'”.
Silwan is located in the southern part of the Old City of Jerusalem, next to the city wall.
At least 33,000 Palestinians live in the neighbourhood, which has been the target of Israeli settler organizations for many years. In some cases, Palestinian residents are forced to share houses with settlers.
Some of these Palestinian families have been displaced from the old city in the 1960s and have lived in Silwan for more than 50 years.
In 2001, Ateret Cohanim, an Israeli settler organization aimed at acquiring land and increasing the presence of Jews in East Jerusalem, controlled a long-established Jewish land trust.
The trust was established in the 19th century when land was purchased in the area to resettle Yemeni Jews. Settlers’ organizations claim in court that trusts they control own the land.
According to Israeli law, if Jews can prove that their family lived in East Jerusalem before Israel was founded in 1948, they can demand the “return” of their property, even if Palestinian families have lived there for decades.
The law only applies to Israelis, and Palestinians do not enjoy the same rights provided by the law.
“There is obvious discrimination here. Jews can take back any property they claim to have before 1948, while Palestinians who lost their homes in 500 villages in Israel, including West Jerusalem, cannot take back their property,” Mohamed Dah Mohammed Dahleh, a lawyer representing some Silwan families, told Al Jazeera.
“These families cannot recover their property even though they hold Israeli ID cards and are considered residents of the State of Israel by Israeli law,” he continued.
“This means that if the Israeli court finally approves this forced displacement, this community will become a refugee for the second time.”