Israeli settler organisations, in collaboration with the Jerusalem municipality, continue to force Palestinian families into the streets, either replacing them with illegal Jewish settlers or demolishing their homes. The latest in the saga of destruction of Palestinian neighborhoods is taking place in Silwan.
This Thursday, Israel’s Jerusalem Municipality rejected an appeal from Palestinian families, residing in Silwan’s Wadi Yasoul neighborhood, to have the demolition orders issued against their homes extended. The municipality seeks to demolish almost the entire neighborhood, on the basis that the houses there do not have building permits, ordering 58 out of the 84 houses in the neighborhood to be demolished. This will result in the displacement of hundreds of Palestinians, left homeless and many impoverished.
A “Central court session” on the matter ruled against the local Jerusalemite families, during which the Israeli municipality was quoted by lawyer Ziad Kawar as saying “these people are criminals and they do not have the right to extend,” urging the immediate destruction of Palestinian homes. Kawar, who represents the Palestinian families told local Palestinian media that the people of Wadi Yasoul had been attempting to secure permits for their homes since 2004, but were repeatedly declined the permits.
Meanwhile, on the very same day, the Burqan family was forced to pay for the demolition of their own home, located in the Ras al-Amoud neighborhood which is also located inside of Silwan.
Israeli settler groups additionally seek to take over Palestinian homes in the areas of Sheikh Jarrah and Batn al-Hawa, so that illegal Jewish settlers can take their places. In Sheikh Jarrah, up to 28 families are under threat of eviction with the purpose of foreign Jewish settlers taking their homes, whilst in Silwan’s Batn al-Hawa roughly 800 Palestinians are threatened with the exact same fate.
In Silwan alone, up to 7,000 Palestinians who live in the area are under threat of expulsion, as Israeli settlers hope to usurp the land and acquire it for Jewish settlement. This sort of extremism is routinely justified with claims that Israel acts lawfully in order to do this, but this is far from the truth. In reality, Israel illegally occupied East Jerusalem in 1967.
According to International Law — as recognised by the United Nations — Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem is illegitimate. In 1980, Israel passed a law which would result in the government assuming legal control according to the regime over East Jerusalem, in what they called a declaration of their sovereignty, on the occupied land. But this annexation was never accepted by the International community.
So what does all of this mean if Israel is an occupying power? It means that Israel has absolutely no legitimacy to take such legal decisions, as it currently does, over the Palestinians of East Jerusalem. Its construction and government projects violate international law and it certainly has no legal basis for demolishing homes and ethnically cleansing the native population.
Nonetheless, mainstream Western media continues to completely ignore this basic truism, that the International Community fundamentally disagrees with Israel holding legal legitimacy over the area under its occupation. Instead of the International Community acting, they sit by idly with no regard for their own laws. This as Israel; demolishes one of the oldest Palestinian graveyards, the al-Yusufiya cemetery, unearthing bodies and desecrating graves for Jewish sites to be built; ethnically cleanses Palestinians from their homes and replaces them with Jewish settlers; demolishes the houses of thousands, leaving the families homeless; and constructs Jewish sites over the top of Palestinian heritage sites.
One cannot even describe in words the hell that Palestinians in Jerusalem are living through. When you visit and spend time watching the daily checkpoints, settler attacks on women, children, churches and mosques, in addition to the removal of families from their homes, it feels as if you are living inside a horror movie. The only places that you feel temporarily free of Israeli occupation forces, enforcing police state conditions on locals based purely on their ethnicity, is when you enter the al-Aqsa Mosque site — where the occupation forces do enter but most of the time you can receive a break from feeling their presence.
Consider the absurdity that we currently live in a world where Western nations ostensibly live and breath identity politics and so-called anti-racism, including Western world leaders, yet when a literal ethnic cleansing campaign is ongoing in one of the most famous cities on earth, not a single mention of it is heard on corporate news outlets. Unless Hamas, the political/armed group which rules Gaza, is firing rockets at Israel, we barely even hear a word about the Palestinian people. It is a mockery of the true struggle against racism and discrimination for those preaching such a message to ignore one of the worst cases of racist discrimination on the planet.
If Jewish people were being kicked out of their homes and replaced with White Supremacist extremists in the United States, and this was done in collaboration with the US government, would it be acceptable to ignore this as a media outlet which preaches anti-racism? If you would be disgusted with this, which any well-meaning human being would be, then you have to seriously re-think your so-called anti-racist perspective if you justify it when this same type of discrimination is happening to Palestinians.