10 August 2009
Israeli forces issued five new house demolition orders in the al-Bustan section of Silwan in East Jerusalem on Wednesday, 5 August, injuring eight Palestinians in the process and seizing the identification card of Musa Odeh, a member of the al-Bustan Committee working to non-violently oppose the demolitions. Authorities also deployed tear gas to prevent residents from confronting the soldiers ordering the demolitions.
The orders augment the 90 demolition orders already standing in Silwan, a densely populated village located on the southeastern slopes of the Old City of Jerusalem. The area, which is located near the biblical site of Siloam and which houses approximately 55,000 residents, was annexed by the state of Israel in 1967; since then, the Municipality of Jerusalem has nearly uniformly refused Palestinian residents building permits to develop the neighborhood, typifying Israeli urban planning policy in East Jerusalem for the past 42 years. In 2004, a directive was issued from the Municipality’s building supervision department to demolish all the homes in Silwan in order to build the “King’s Valley” archaeological park, which is currently under the administration of the fundamentalist settler group Elad. If completed as planned, the Silwan demolitions would constitute the largest scale demolition program in the city of Jerusalem since the leveling of the Maghrebi quarter the night after Israel’s seizure of East Jerusalem in 1967 in order to build today’s Western Wall plaza.