An order to demolish Wadi Hilweh playground
The occupation municipality's court for local affairs issued an order to demolish the facilities of Wadi Hilweh playground which is run by Madaa Silwan Creative Center. Wadi Hilweh committee explained in a statement on Thursday that the occupation municipality's court decided to remove Wadi Hilweh playground which is 1500 square meters in addition to demolishing its facilities (a 15-square meters storage and a 40-square meters animals barracks) and also sweeping the plants and asphalt. The committee added that the demolition order was issued by the occupation's municipality at the beginning of last June and could be challenged within 30 days but the committee only received the order by mail after two and a half months of the issue date. Ahmad Qaraeen, member of Wadi Hilweh committee, explained that the municipality's order is issued against an "unknown" and anyone who challenges the order will be fined and would have to pay the demolition expenses in an attempt to prevent anyone from challenging the order. It is noteworthy that the municipality is fully aware of the owners of the land as they had previously fought with the municipality to maintain their land; the playground was previously raided several times and the owners were arrested. Qaraeen added that the land is owned by the heirs of Atallah Siam and is being used by Madaa Silwan Creative Center for the children of Silwan in general and Wadi Hilweh in particular where activities are organized throughout the year as the town lacks playgrounds and parks for children. Qaraeen pointed out that the municipality attempted to confiscate the land in 2007 to turn it into a parking lot and serve the settlers in Silwan but was challenged in the Israeli courts. In 2009, Madaa Silwan Creative Center turned the land into a playground for children with the approval of the District court. Qaraeen also added that several orders were issued against Wadi Hilweh playground and the Nature and Parks Authority demolished its facilities in 2012 (cultural cafe, barracks, storages and restrooms) under the pretext of "removing trash". Qaraeen warned from the danger of demolishing the playground which could open the road for building a road to be used by settlers in the area and a prelude to confiscate more lands and demolish more houses in the future as the occupation authorities aim to connect the area of Wadi Hilweh to Wadi Al-Rababa and reaching to the neighborhood of Al-Thori in Silwan. Qaraeen confirmed that the playground is considered the only space available for the children of Wadi Hilweh where activities are held by Madaa Center throughout the year. Qaraeen denounced the order of removing and demolishing the playground while Elad settlement organization is establishing "caravans" in a land they recently confiscated which confirms the policy of racism and double standards followed by the municipality against the Arab population in Jerusalem.