With a partial lull in settlement activities in the large settlement neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, it appears that the center of gravity of settler activities has moved to the Old City and its visual basin, in places like the Muslim Quarter, Wadi Hilweh/City of David, Batan al Hawa/Yemenite Quarter, Sheikh Jarrah, etc. The cumulative evidence indicates that current developments go beyond routine “house-to-house” skirmishing; rather there appears to be a serious thrust geared toward significantly consolidating the settler presence in the targeted areas, with massive support from the government of Israel.
These developments should provoke serious concern, but have yet to receive attention they deserve.
What follows are examples of recent developments (the list is not illustrative of the trend, but not comprehensive – in-depth analysis of the situation, including a detailed description of the government’s involvement and proposals for appropriate/effective responses, will be the subject of a forthcoming Insiders’ Jerusalem).
The Muslim Quarter: The Okbat al-Saraya area of the Muslim Quarter, to the west of the Temple Mt/Haram al Sharif, appears to be particularly targeted. In this area:
- the eviction of the Sub-Laban family is now imminent. The order is currently under examination by Israeli Supreme Court after having been approved last October by the District Court. Their eviction will be the final chapter of Jewish appropriation of this three-story building, which has started a few decades ago.
- the owner of a shop located in the Okbat Al-Saraya neighbourhood in the Old City was evicted on December 22.
- Eviction proceedings have apparently been instituted recently against three additional Palestinians in the area, based on properties purportedly owned by Jews prior to 1948 and either administered by or released by the government of Israel’s Custodian General
Batan al-Hawa (section of Silwan): This area of Silwan continues to be a focal point of settler-related activities (for our prior analysis of the situation emerging in Batan al Hawa see here). In this area:
- On October 19, the eviction of the Abu Nab family was completed.
- On December 15, two additional families received eviction notices in the Batan al-Hawa neighborhood in Silwan.
- Legal proceedings have been already filed against 16 other Palestinian families in the area.
Sheikh Jarrah/Shepherds Hotel: The construction of the 20 residential units in the settlement enclave of Sheikh Jarrah is approaching completion. Occupancy may be anticipated in early 2016.