Under police escort, Jews associated with the Elad organization moved into another building in East Jerusalem's Silwan quarter early on Friday. The 160-square-meter two-story building is located near the Givati parking lot excavation site near the old walled city, in an area where Elad is planning to open a visitors' center for the City of David national park.
Elad has two main focuses in East Jerusalem: settling Jews in the largely Palestinian Silwan neighborhood and running tourist and excavation sites. The building into which Jewish residents moved on Friday is the latest of dozens of homes and of land that has been acquired by Elad in Wadi Hilweh, the section of Silwan that extends from near the Temple Mount to the Kidron Valley. About 75 Jewish families are thought to be currently living there among hundreds of Palestinian families.
Palestinian sources in Silwan said that as in previous instances, the organization used a Palestinian middleman to buy the house about a year and a half ago. The man presented a permit from the Palestinian Authority authorizing him to buy the property and stating that he was not collaborating with Israeli authorities.
"The Israeli government and the settlers' association have not stopped their activities aimed at Judaizing Silwan," Aviv Tatarsky, researcher from the Ir Amim watch group said. "This policy pushes Jerusalem into a situation of discrimination and violence that will exact a heavy price of the Israeli public in Jerusalem and the entire country," he said.
Jerusalem's planning commission also approved construction of a three-story building for Israeli settlers in Silwan's Batan al-Hawa section on Wednesday, just before U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's speech in which he cautioned that Israel's settlement expansion threatened the possibility of achieving a two-state peaceful solution.
The Ateret Cohanim organization has been active in promoting a Jewish presence in Batan al-Hawa, where there are about a dozen other Jewish families. The organization has also been pursuing eviction proceedings against dozens of Palestinian families on the claim that the land on which their homes are situated had been owned by a Jewish trust.
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