Israeli Court Orders Razing Palestinian Neighborhood Of Batn Al-Hawa in East Jerusalem

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  • An Israeli court has ordered the Palestinian residents of the Batan al-Hawa neighborhood to be evicted.
  • The court claims that the Yemeni Jews resided in the neighborhood before Palestinians moved in.
  • Batan al-Hilwa is located in the heart of Silwan, occupied East Jerusalem.

View from the west of Batan al-Hawa, Silwan, East Jerusalem. ( Amit Gilutz / B’Tselem)

Israel’s Jerusalem District Court has approved the eviction of 87 Palestinians from the Batan al-Hawa area in Silwan in favor of the Israeli settler group Ateret Cohanim.

Batan al-Hawa neighborhood, Silwan, East Jerusalem. (B’Tselem)

The Palestinian families, who have resided in the area for years, are expected to be expelled from their homes in Silwan, situated in occupied East Jerusalem, before the inauguration of US President-elect Joseph Biden on 20 January 2021.

 

View of Al-Aqsa Mosque from a Palestinian home in Batan al-Hawa, Silwan. (Mersiha Gadzo/Al Jazeera)

Ateret Cohanim, which aims to enlarge the presence of settlers inside Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, had sued the inhabitants of Batan al-Hawa, claiming that Yemeni Jews owned the land during the Ottoman era until 1938 when the British Mandate allegedly moved them due to political tensions.

An Israeli flag engulfs six floors of a building occupied by Jewish settlers in Batan al-Hawa. (Mersiha Gadzo/Al Jazeera)

It plans to set up a heritage center for Yemenite Jewry on the site, at an approximate cost of 4 million shekels ($1.2m). 

Read More: Ex-Mossad Chief: Israeli Officials Met Arab Leaders Disguised As Women

Silwan’s areas of Wadi Hilweh and Batan al-Hawa are a hotspot for Israeli settler activities, including digging underneath Palestinian houses to search for the lost biblical “City of David.”

Um Naser, a Palestinian resident of Batan al-Hawa, shows a Jewish settler’s illegally constructed house in the neighborhood in 2016. (Hussam ‘Abed / B’Tselem)
Palestinians refused equal rights.

Ateret Cohanim started suing the Palestinian residents of Batan al-Hawa almost 20 years ago when it obtained the Jewish religious trust of Benvenisti, which was registered as the owner of the land of Batan al-Hawa, on which several Palestinian homes were constructed in the 1960s.

Israeli flags on buildings mark Jewish settlers’ presence in Batan al-Hawa. (Mersiha Gadzo/Al Jazeera)

After initiating a legal case against the residents, Ateret Cohanim has settled around 23 settler families among 850 Palestinian residents, under hefty security. 

The 87 Palestinian inhabitants of Batan al-Hawa have been residing in their homes since 1963. 

Israeli law favors settlers by allowing only Jews to claim property they owned before 1948 while denying the same right to Palestinians.

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