Palestinians, Settlers Clash in East Jerusalem

Settlers say Palestinians have surrounded a settler residence; Palestinian youth say settlers pelted stones at them.

Tensions in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan continued on Friday as a group of Palestinian youth pelted rocks toward Israeli police and a settler accused the Palestinians of attempting to run her over. The woman was not injured.

Emil Salman

According to the settlers, the Palestinian youth have surrounded a Beit Dvash, a building settled by Jewish resident near the controversial Beit Yonatan.

Beit Yonatan, a seven-story residence of Jewish families in the heart of Silwan, has been a flashpoint in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, the Palestinians reported that the settlers hurled stones in their direction, while Palestinian youth clashed with Israeli police who used tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Earlier, tensions in the neighborhood reached a boiling point when local Palestinians hurled stones toward a vehicle carrying Knesset members and members of the State Control committee who were touring the Jewish-occupied building in the heart of the Arab neighborhood to assess the residents' claim that they were being unfairly targeted by police monitoring illegal construction.

MKs who drove through Silwan in an armored car said Palestinian children pelted them with stones. "We were attacked with a very large rock that was thrown at us," said MK Yoel Hasson (Likud ), chairman of the State Control Committee. "We felt a shake but the armored car withstood it well."

Meanwhile, a state comptroller's report issued this week found that the Jerusalem city hall has been lax in enforcing building codes and reining in illegal construction in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.

In particular, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss cited the municipality's failure to preserve green areas in Silwan's Gan Hamelech section.

Gan Hamelech garnered media attention earlier this year after Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat declared his intention to raze 22 of the 88 illegal structures built at the site in order to make way for a park meant to attract tourists. The mayor said he prepared his plan after having been criticized by the comptroller for failing to confront the illegal building problem.

The comptroller also criticized the drawn-out legal proceedings against those believed to be behind the illegal construction, as well as the lack of cooperation between the municipality and the Interior Ministry in efforts to tackle the problem.