Pictures and details…26 houses in the hands of settlers in Silwan
A state of shock, pain and indignation dominated over the residents of the neighborhood of Wadi Hilweh in Silwan on Tuesday the 30th of September, 2014 after the disclosure of the enormity of what had happened in the neighborhood. Buildings and apartments became owned by Elad Settlement Association overnight and were taken over in the middle of the night. A reality which was imposed by the settlers and under the protection of the Israeli police. They took out the door locks and installed new ones in addition to placing metal grills over all the windows; note that they also put chains to close the main gates of the buildings to prevent the residents of Silwan from entering. The raid was carried out at 2:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning and the residents reacted by confronting the settlers but were assaulted and sprayed with pepper gas by the settlers and police individuals. Since the first moments of taking over the locals’ houses, Wadi Hilweh Information Center worked on gathering information and revealing the facts from the residents and some of the owners who were present in the area. The news was quickly spread to the local and international media to expose the crime that occurred in the neighborhood by weak-minded people. According to information gathered by the center, 26 houses (8 buildings) were leaked to Elad Settlement Association where most of them are in the neighborhood of Baydoun near Wadi Hilweh except for Al-Khayyat family building and two houses owned by Qaraeen family in Wadi Hilweh and Al-Yamani building and a house owned by Sarhan family in the area of “Cemetery” in between Wadi Hilweh and Wadi Rababeh. Lawyer Mohammad Dahleh: The lack of any moral, religious or national scruples Several residents of the neighborhood restored to the law in an attempt to prevent the take-over of their houses. Lawyer Mohammad Dahleh came to the neighborhood to take a look at the details of the confiscation process and said: “What happened in an unprecedented raid carried out by settlement associations especially Elad Association in the neighborhood of Wadi Hilweh in Silwan. It had never happened that a settlement association whether it was an individual take-over or governmental to confiscate 25 houses in one night and immediately house settlers.” He added: “this is a serious indicator which threats the Palestinians presence in Silwan as the locals of Silwan will feel that their houses are permissible and they could be easily convinced to sell them. Also, they tend to entice people to sell their houses and explain to them that nothing bad will happen to any seller and then the sale is made without any fear or moral, religious or national scruples.” The lawyer explained that Elad Association does not hide its intentions to take over property in Silwan as it always did and will do in the future. He said: “in the past, we were able to cancel several deals that were done with Elad Association as we found legal violation for some cases where the seller does not have the right to sell or the property is owned by more than one person and the part that was sold was not identified between the several owners. In some cases, neighbors should be the first option to buy property and they should be the priority when the owner sells.” The lawyer noted that gaps were found in the sale of these properties as people from outside of Silwan whether from Jerusalem or the 1948 lands were engaged in the deal by buying the houses from the people of Silwan or leasing them. He added: “we will try to use all those gaps to defend the rights of those who were not engaged in the deals and did not sell their house.” He explained that the apartments that were taken over by Elad association on Tuesday were occupied except for one or two cases. This shows that the settlement is planning ahead to carry out bigger series of taking over houses. He added: “There is no doubt that the matter is very serious. Silwan is the southern gate of Al-Aqsa Mosque and is a sensitive and targeted area that has a big settlement (City of David), and taking over houses through different channels at one time only shows that Silwan is in real danger and the possibility of Judaizing Silwan became a real threat. The residents of Silwan have to be very careful or otherwise our dreams of having Palestinian neighborhoods and a Palestinian capitol in the future will only be hopes that are almost impossible to achieve.” Witnesses that describe the magnitude of the disaster… The neighbors and those affected were witnesses of the process o taking over buildings and apartments in Silwan and they described as the largest in terms of planning and size. Ashraf Sarhan Ashraf Naser Sarhan from Silwan is one of those affected, he said: “Our building has five floors. My uncles live in three floors and the fourth was sold to a man named Wael Abu Sbeih nearly two years ago and the fifth is still ours. The sales contract confirmed our right to buy the property if the owner Abu Sbeih decided to sell, but he chose to sell it to the Jews.” Wadi Hilweh Center was informed that the apartment is 220-square meters and has 6 or 7 rooms. Ashraf confirmed that the family will seek justice from the law in order to take back the apartment. Elias Karaki in Baydoun neighborhood The 62-year old Elias Karaki confirmed that he has the documents which prove that his son Nabil sold the apartment to a Palestinian from the 1948 lands named Farid Al-Hajj Yehya 7 months ago and the procedures were completed only three months ago after Yehya paid the price of the apartment; Elias pointed out that Yehya never moved in. He added: “I was surprised when I saw eight settlers closing the windows after midnight. They later told me that they bought the house. I was really shocked as the house is only few meters away from my house. Our life will turn into hell since I live with my sons and grandchildren (35 individuals).” He pointed out that the house is two floors where each floor is 200 square meters and has 4 rooms and their facilities. Mohammad Baydoun (Abu Anan) Mohammad Baydoun explained that he rented out three floors of the family’s building for the last three years (six apartments and one roof). He said: “I was surprised at 2:30 a.m. when the neighbors called me and said that the settlers raided the building and put iron chains on the main gate and installed new locks after breaking the old ones.” He pointed out that his building is built on 250 square meters and each apartment consists of four rooms and facilities. The house of Yousef Zawahreh Wadi Hilweh Information Center was informed that Hani Abbasi sold his house last Ramadan to Yousef Zawahreh who did construction and fixed the first floor which is 100 square meters and then built another one. Remarkably, Hours before handing the house, Zawahreh was sitting with the neighbors and then left without closing the main door. The house of Faisal Karaki The center was also informed that Faisal Karaki bought a house from the family of Awwad and then built another floor without occupying it; note that each floor is 70 square meters and has two rooms and facilities. Abdel Naser Qaraeen One of the owners of the Hosh in the neighborhood is names Abdel Naser Qaraeen, he said: “We were surprised when dozens of settlers raided the Hosh and broke the locks without saying anything. We tried to kick them out but the police assaulted and hit us and threatened to arrest us. The settlers sprayed us with tear gas and threatened my nephew Mahmoud Qaraeen to shoot him; note that they assaulted and severely beat him. We stayed in the Hosh in order to prevent their control over the houses or even use the courtyard as a corridor for them. We contacted lawyer Mohammad Dahleh who will follow up with the case in court.” He added: “this is a big disaster, and the case is not the closed gate but this Hosh is for one big family and all apartments are Palestinian and will remain so. We will fight until we force them to leave.” He explained that the two houses taken over by the settlers are owned by his father Mahmoud Qaraeen. The first house is 160 square meters and the second is 40 square meters; note that the settlers demolished the wall in between the two houses in order to make them one.” Mohammad Adel Khayyat Mohammad Adel Shafiq Taha said that while he was in the village of Kobar (northwest of Ramallah); he received a call from his family and the neighbors to inform him that the settlers had raided his home. He added: “I came quickly and tried to enter. I talked to the police and informed them that this is my home but they refused to listen and instead pushed and assaulted me.” He pointed out that the settlers took over three residential apartments that he owns without knowing the reason behind the raid and said that he will head to court to take back his property. Al-Yamani Faisal Karaki sold to Al-Yamani who built a building of 8 residential apartments two years ago where Al-Yamani family lived for one year and then left. A meeting in Silwan Wadi Hilweh Information Center and the other working organizations in Silwan as well as the national and Islamic forces called for a meeting last Thursday in Wadi Hilweh stadium to discuss the matter of selling houses and property. The Center confirmed that calls and meetings were held around the hour and an investigation committee was formed in addition to a legal movement to try to take back the “leaked” houses. The Islamic Movement (northern part) denies any relation with the so-called “Farid Al-Hajj Yehya” We in the Islamic Movement in the 1948 lands emphasize we will always protect the city of Jerusalem and our position is clear and will remain clear in terms of protecting Jerusalem with its residents, houses, properties and land. We have always followed this approach behind our leader Sheikh Raed Salah for many years and will remain. To eliminate any confusion, we confirm that “Farid Al-Hajj Yehya” was never a member of the Islamic Movement and was never part of us or any of the Islamic Movement’s organizations. The Islamic Movement (northern part) issues a statement The Islamic Movement in the1948 lands emphasized that the process of selling and leaking the houses of Silwan to settlers is a heinous crime and a betrayal of God (Allah), His Messenger, and the nation. Accordingly, commenting on the news that are consecutively released regarding a person from the 1948 lands “Farid Al-Hajj Yehya” who works in Al-Aqsa Association of the Islamic Movement, we emphasize the following:
- We, the Islamic Movement, do not have any relationship either closely or far with this person mentioned. This person was an employee of Al-Aqsa Association between 2007 and 2010 and was terminated and we informed the charities on that day with official letters documented that this person does not represent the Islamic Movement or Al-Aqsa Association in any matter.
- Al-Aqsa Association to protect the Islamic Awqaf and Sanctities which is part of the Islamic Movement does not have any relationship with the buying and selling process of any house in Jerusalem or Silwan, and the news getting released are talking about a different association names Al-Aqsa Association for Relief and Development.
- We do not have any relationship or know this association or what they do or any other information, and none of the Islamic Movement’s members is part of that association.