Silwanic can reveal that the Israeli court has approved the eviction of a Palestinian family from their home in Baten el-Hawa neighborhood in Silwan. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center has received exclusive information that authorities plan to evict the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit Yonatan in Baten el-Hawa in accordance with court orders, and use the evicted Abu Nab home to resettle the evicted settlers. The timing of such a controversial operation, which was planned to take place tomorrow on 26 December during the Christmas season appears to be intentional, while international attention is focused on the holidays. Jerusalem Police issued a statement tonight saying that the eviction would not, however, take place tomorrow, but offered no further information as to when the date has been postponed until.
Israeli authorities are attempting to expropriate and transfer possession of the Abu Nab home on the grounds that the land on which the home is built was once the site of a Yemenite synagogue. While Yemenite Jews have a history in Silwan, it has not always been a happy one, with religious Yemenite Jews finding themselves relegated to the village after they were turned away from Jerusalem’s Old City. Many of the pilgrims, who intended to settle in the Old City’s Jewish Quarter for religious reasons, were not accepted warmly by the Jews already living there, and were sent outside the walls of the Old City to the nearby Baten al-Hawa district of Silwan. A Yemenite Jewish community lived in Silwan for some time, they eventually left Silwan to resettle elsewhere.
It is thus ironic that the Israeli establishment is today attempting to exploit this fleeting history of the Yemenite community in Silwan to claim traditional Palestinian land in the village, after it was Jerusalem’s Jewish community itself who relegated the ostracized Mizrahim to the Arab district. In what is becoming an argument increasingly employed by Israeli expansionists in Jerusalem however, land that was once owned or even inhabited by Jews in the past must, by this logic, become property of modern-day Jewish owners. Similar arguments have been employed throughout the complex legal battles that have taken place in Sheikh Jarrah for several decades now.
Such double standards are not lost on the indigenous Palestinian population of Silwan, with one resident raising the question of how Israel could never turn such an argument on its head in favour of Palestinian heritage: “if the existence of such a synagogue did indeed grant them the right to own this land today, would they grant us the very same right to reclaim all the sites where Palestinian mosques and churches once stood, where today stand museums, bars and discotheques?” While Israeli authorities may attempt to find legal loopholes allowing a Jewish “right of return” to historical lands, a decisive law the ensures just the opposite has existed for Palestinians for some 60 years: the notorious Absentee Property Law. The Law has enabled the Israeli state to become “custodian of absentee properties”, that is, all land abandoned by Palestinian land-owners during the Nakba in 1948, when the creation of the Israeli state forced some 900,000 Palestinians to flee their homes and land, the vast majority of which had been in their families for centuries.
Israeli forces in Baten el Hawa – Archive