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Israeli court approves eviction of 100 Palestinian families from Silwan

Nov. 23, 2018 1:18 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 25, 2018 1:27 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli Supreme Court approved, on Thursday, a decision to remove dozens of Palestinian families from their homes in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, in occupied East Jerusalem, after rejecting a petition by the families.

The Israeli Supreme Court also allowed the Israeli-Jewish settler group, Ateret Cohanim, to continue with plans to expel 700 Palestinians from their homes, claiming the homes were built on lands owned by Jews before 1948.

The decision was taken despite acknowledgment by the judges that Ateret Cohanim’s actions in seizing the land were flawed and raised questions about the legality of transferring the land to the right-wing group.

Ateret Cohanim, which champions Jewish settlement activities in occupied East Jerusalem, had asked the Israeli Supreme Court to expel Palestinian families from their homes and to seize the entire area and the buildings erected on it under the pretext of its ownership by Jews more than 120 years ago.

Ateret Cohanim, which in 2001 claimed the right to administer Jewish property, claimed that it owned the land before 1948 and began in September 2015 to hand over letters to residents of the neighborhood confirming its ownership of the land and buildings.

The Palestinian residents immediately responded and lodged the petition with the Israeli Supreme Court after the eviction orders were issued by a district court in Jerusalem, however, the court the petition against the decision.
The court's decision means that more than 100 Palestinian families will lose their homes to Israeli settlers.

The affected Silwan residents stressed that “the claim by Ateret Cohanim that it owns some 5.2 dunams of land is false” due to the land in question, according to the Ottoman law that was in force at the time, can only be disposed of by a special order from the Sultan.

The residents said that the buildings owned by the Jewish organizations were destroyed in the late 19th century. Therefore, the organizations represented by Ateret Cohanim do not have any right to the land and if the court had ruled that the organizations had the right to the buildings themselves, these buildings have already been demolished.

The court claimed that part of one of the buildings that belonged to the Jewish organizations survived the demolition, which justified the transfer of ownership of the land, and not just the buildings, to the settlement organization.

Therefore, the court ruled that it is the right of those concerned to build a new synagogue on the ruins of what was demolished in the 19th century after evicting the inhabitants of the Silwan neighborhood.
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