Details - A Decision to Confiscate Dozens of Acres from the Land of Silwan
The Israeli municipality decided to confiscate dozens of acres from the land of Silwan, south of Al Aqsa Mosque, under the cover of “gardening / planting and installation of irrigation channels and roads for walking”.
Wadi Hilweh Information Center - Silwan explained that the staff of the Israeli municipality hung up flyers about the confiscation in two locations, Wadi Al Rababah neighborhood and the Abbasiyah neighborhood, accompanied with numbered maps intended to show the pieces confiscated, explaining that the flyers are titled: “the announcement of a desire for gardening empty land”.
The center added that the notifications threaten dozens of acres of the land of the town of Silwan from the neighborhoods of Wadi Al Rababah, Wadi Hilweh, the Bier of Ayyub and the Prophet Daoud area. All the land belongs to the people and families of the town who have all the documents and property papers to prove that the land is theirs; other parts of the land belong to the Greek Orthodox Church.
In its statement the center refuted the Israeli Municipality’s claims that the land was empty. Jawad Siam, Director of the Information Center, explained that the entire land has been planted with olive trees, figs and berry trees for decades. For years, residents have been banned from planting new trees; in addition, they are being arrested and threatened by the so-called “Nature Authority” when they act on improving infrastructure on their land. Israeli bulldozers are also scraping the areas and demolishing the structures on them, especially in the lands of Wadi Al Rababah neighborhood, where the occupation authorities consider them “public parks”.
The notices stated: “The mayor wishes to exercise his authority under section 2 of the Local Authorities Act (temporary use of vacant land) 1987, where there is no buildings on it.” The municipality claimed that horticulture included “planting trees, installing irrigation channels and networks, creating geotechnical strips, developing landscapes, arranging walking paths, and installing seating areas.”
Wadi Hilweh Information Center added that the Israeli Municipality claims that the confiscation order for the purpose of gardening will be for a temporary period and according to the announcement for a period of 5 years, pointing out that the occupation authorities, whether municipal or the authority of nature or the antiquities authority is putting their hands on the land in the town of Silwan in different and twisted ways, especially as the territories covered by the notifications are considered the most targeted land in the town of Silwan for settlement projects, where parts of them are being dug for the construction of the Pedestrian Bridge, which will link Al-Thawri neighborhood and AlNabi Daoud area passing through Wadi Al-Rababah neighborhood. In addition, construction works are being carried out in the area for the construction of a restaurant, as well as the construction of roads for settlers and tourists, in addition to digging and placing make-believe graves.
Siam confirmed that the land intended for confiscation of the so-called “gardening works” is the remaining land for the people of the town of Silwan to build houses, schools and public squares for the people; however, the Israeli municipality refuses to grant permits and demolishes any facilities under the pretext of building without a permit.
The families of the land threatened with confiscation confirmed that they have the right and priority over the occupation authorities, to do the work of agriculture and the development of chains and irrigation channels; however, the occupation authorities prevent them and chase them in the case of doing any work on their land even if it was just cleaning it.
The residents of Silwan confirmed that the announcement aims to confiscate the land permanently. They added that a few years ago, the occupation authorities had confiscated and closed parts of “Ein Al Hamra” area in Wadi Hilweh area under the pretext of improving it for public benefit. It was considered the entrance to the neighborhood’s kindergarten and mosque, but the occupation authorities confiscated it and prevented residents from using it. It is now controlled by the Elad settlement association. In Ras Al Amoud neighborhood in the town, the occupation authorities announced their intention to transfer the building of the police station in the area to a public benefit area but instead they transformed it into a settlement.
The residents added that they are going to object to the notifications to the competent authorities to protect their lands from the schemes of the occupation authorities, and to demand improvement and cultivation and the installing of channels and wall rocks in them without any restrictions and obstacles from the occupation authorities.