Thursday, November 26, 2020

Settlers occupy part of Palestinian home in Silwan

By Ruairi Henchy - March 21, 2015
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Silwan] [Jerusalem] [Settlers]

Photo by Ruairi Henchy.

A Palestinian family was made homeless on Wednesday March 18 when Jewish Israelis, backed by armed police, occupied their home.

The Palestine Monitor spoke to Nihad Siam about the incident. Nihad works in the Wadi Hilweh center, just a few doors down. He explained that the house belongs to the Faraj family, also known as the al-Malhis, after the village of Malha from which they were expelled in 1948.

One section of the house belongs to Soufyan al-Malhi and the other to his brother Sinaan. Having rented the property since 1957, they are protected leaseholders under Israeli law and cannot be evicted under normal circumstances.

“I remember Soufyan saying about 30 years ago when he was a child that he wished to be a millionaire – how? He doesn’t care,” Nihad alleged. Nihad went on to say that Soufyan has always had good relations with the Israeli authorities and Jewish settler groups, and that according to the al-Malhi family, the settlers offered him $850,000 for the property.

“But Sinaan didn’t agree to this and Soufyan’s wife, Jihad, didn’t agree either,” Nihad said. “According to the Israeli law, the wife has half of the rights to the home, so Soufyan couldn’t do this on his own,” he explained.

Jihad and her son, Muntasser, who was also resolutely opposed to the sale, were detained by the Israeli police earlier on Wednesday and brought to a nearby police station for questioning. However, no charges were made against them and when they were released, they came back to find that their home had been occupied. The family believes police staged the bogus detention in order to get them out of the house. 

Upon returning home, they found a police officer out front who prevented them from re-entering. “The police officer said there was a decision from the court saying they couldn’t go back so we said to him 'okay, show us the court order,’” Nihad explained. “But he refused. So this was a decision from the police, not from the courts,” he said.

“Jihad waited in the streets all day with her children trying to go back, but they wouldn’t even let her enter to Sinaan’s part of the house,” Nihad said.

Later on in the evening, local youth clashed with the police and blocked the road to protest Jihad’s plight before she was eventually allowed to spend the night with her brother in law, Sinaan. Soufyan, however, hasn’t been seen since according to Nihad.

This extraordinary settler taker-over of a private home came one day after Benjamin Netanyahu’s pro-settlement Likud party swept to victory in Israel’s general elections. In an intense last week of campaigning, Netanyahu visited Israeli settlers in occupied Jerusalem and promised that he would never cede any sovereignty of the city to a future Palestinian state.

“We will continue to build in Jerusalem, we will add thousands of housing units, and in the face of all the (international) pressure, we will persist and continue to develop our eternal capital,” Netanyahu promised according to Wafa News Agency.

“Yesterday was like a gift from Netanyahu because he won the elections. It was like a green light to [the settlers] to do whatever they want. They don’t care about what is legal or illegal,” Nihad claimed. “They know they have the power and that’s it – we saw this yesterday that they have the power to tell the police what to do,” he said. 

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