A new settlement project- “Jewish Heritage Center” in Silwan
July 29, 2018


The occupation authorities allocated millions of shekels to establish a settlement project in the village of Silwan, under the name of "Center for the Heritage of the Jews of Yemen," in another step to promote settlements in Silwan south of the Aqsa Mosque.

Wadi Hilweh Information Center and Batn Al-Hawa neighborhood committee in Silwan said that the occupation authorities and Ateret Cohanim settlement association will open on Wednesday the settlement project in Abu Nab property in the neighborhood of Batn Al-Hawa which was seized in 2015.

The Center and the Committee said in a joint statement on Saturday evening that the occupation authorities, especially the so-called "Ministry of Jerusalem and the Ministry of Culture" allocated 4.5 million shekels (equivalent to $1.2 million) for the settlement project.

The Center and the Committee also explained that the occupation authorities claim that the property of Abu Nab, located on a 700- square meters land, was in the late 19th century a synagogue for the Jews of Yemen, and began to demand the evacuation of the property in 2004. The property is located within the scheme "to control 5200 square meters of "Batn Al Hawa" neighborhood, under the pretext of belonging to Jews from Yemen since 1881.

The Information Center and Batn Al-Hawa Committee noted that in August last year the occupation authorities opened a Jewish synagogue in Abu Nab property with the introduction of a Torah scroll, with the official participation of ministers in the Israeli government and representatives of the settlement associations.

They also said that the project "Center for the Heritage of the Jews of Yemen" is similar to the so-called "visitors center" in the neighborhood of Wadi Hilweh in Silwan, where the Israeli occupation authorities and settlement associations seek to find a story for Jews in Jerusalem in general and the village of Silwan in particular by forging facts and history.

The Center and the Committee added that the Yemeni Jews lived in Silwan as refugees for a period of not more than fifty years, where they were welcomed by the people of Silwan because of the refusal of Western Jews to live with them. This does not mean they own the land, although they sold the property to the people of Silwan, as the residents of Batn Al-Hawa have all the documents to prove their ownership of their homes.

The Supreme Court recently held a hearing on the petition filed by 84 families from Batn Al-Hawa neighborhood, which received notices to vacate their homes for Ateret Cohnim Association. The Israeli Supreme Court requested the Public Prosecution to provide detailed explanations on how to “guardian of absentee property” transferred the ownership of a piece of land with an area of 5200 square meters in the village of Silwan to the association of Ateret Cohanim, especially since the targeted lands are considered "Mere”, i.e., they are governmental since the Ottoman period and cannot be turned into a “Waqf” according to Ottoman law. The court also asked for details regarding the procedures that took place before transferring the ownership of the land.

Batn Al-Hawa Committee and the Information Center explained that the settlement associations are trying to control and seize real estate in Batn Al-Hawa neighborhood by claiming partial ownership of the land or buying pieces of land from those that fall for the money. The increase of settlement outposts in the neighborhoods resulted in a significant increase of assaults and provocations made by the settlers and their guards.

The Committee and the Center emphasized that the existence of a synagogue and a cultural center in Batn Al-Hawa neighborhood of Silwan has purely political aims to extend their control of the neighborhood and to be overrun by settlers and Israeli officials. There are 8 settlement outposts in the neighborhood, the first being seized since 2004.