14 November 2010 | Wadi Hilweh Information Center & ISM
On Saturday, Israeli forces erected checkpoints at the entrances to Silwan village for the second day in a row. The network of checkpoints are a notorious source of inconvenience and frustration to the people of Silwan, whose freedom of movement is obstructed by the “security” barriers.Last week, on Monday the 8th of November, Jerusalem Municipality workers, accompanied by Israeli forces, removed the memorial to Silwan martyr Samer Sarhan. A drinking fountain and olive tree dedicated to the memory of Sarhan were also removed from the site. Municipal workers and Israeli troops completed the operation in less than ten minutes, shadowed by an Israeli military helicopter overhead.
Later Monday night clashes erupted in the Bir Ayyub district of Silwan, following an Israeli military raid on a small shop and a number of Palestinian homes in the region. Undercover forces and Israeli troops violently arrested 7 Palestinian residents of Silwan, between the ages of 17 and 21, at 9pm after forcing entry into the shop. Eyewitnesses report that the shop’s customers were beaten and sprayed in the face with pepper spray by Israeli troops.
The next day, Israeli police and special forces raided the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, accompanied by an inspector from the Jerusalem Municipality, under the pretext of investigating illegal building. The officers photographed the Center from the inside before continuing on toward Al-Bustan, where they delivered demolition orders on two buildings.
These raids of Silwan on the 9th coincided with French and British diplomats’ visits to the village. Several high-level delegations have visited the Wadi Hilweh Information Center in recent weeks, including diplomatic groups representing the European Union, United Nations and various commissions, consulates and embassies. Diplomats met with residents of Silwan, who were able to recount their impressions and experiences of the Israeli government’s policies of Judaization, settlement expansion and home demolition in the village, and the resulting poverty and suffering. The visiting delegations expressed their disapproval of the government’s policies and the escalating humanitarian situation in Silwan, and the detention of child prisoners in particular.
The Israeli Knesset will be holding a meeting on the first day of Eid al-Adha, November 16, to give the Jerusalem Municipality the green light to resume demolition of Palestinian homes in the city of Jerusalem, especially Silwan. The date was postponed from Sunday to Tuesday despite the holiday, celebrated by Arab members of the Knesset. Among the properties slated for demolition are the homes of Khalil Abbasi and Mohammed Ashour el-Razem of Silwan, and Ayman Abu Ramila of Beit Hanina.
Speaking to Silwanic.net, lawyer Sami Irsheid stated that the municipality has recently re-enacted its policy of demolition of barnyards and animal pens in various areas of East Jerusalem, including el-Thuri, Silwan and Issawiya village. The policy has since expanded to include the demolition of shops, indicative of the policy’s next phase: home demolition. Observers have commented that the municipality’s prior demolition of animal shelters betrays a strategy of “testing the waters” of the local and international community’s reaction to such practices, thereby enabling the administration to proceed only with the demolition of homes once it is assured of no diplomatic backlash.