The report – a joint publication of Ir Amim and Peace Now – focuses on the rapid escalation of private settlement activity in the heart of Batan al-Hawa, a Palestinian community in Silwan, located just outside the Old City walls within clear sight of Al-Aqsa. Batan al-Hawa is now the site of the largest attempted settler takeover in East Jerusalem, representing not only the large-scale displacement of an entire community but also the complicity of the Israeli government in facilitating private settlement in the Historic Basin.
This activity began over a decade ago, but has dramatically accelerated in the past two years. By the end of 2015, the settlers had quadrupled the number of housing units in their possession, having taken over a total of some 27 units in six buildings. In addition, 12 eviction claims relating to 51 families – most initiated over the past year – are currently pending. One hundred families – roughly 600 Palestinians – are at risk of displacement, many of whom stand to become refugees for the second time, having lost their properties in West Jerusalem after 1948.
The settlement in Batan al-Hawa now being developed by Ateret Cohanim is an integral part of efforts by settler organizations and Israeli authorities to consolidate Jewish control of the Old City and the surrounding Palestinian neighborhoods, to create an irreversible reality in the Holy Basin around the Old City that deliberately subverts efforts to negotiate an agreed political resolution on Jerusalem.
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