Israeli settlers take over east Jerusalem home after court battle

Israeli police stand in front of a house after a Palestinian family was evicted in east Jerusalem's neighborhood of Silwan, Wednesday, July 10, 2019. Officers removed the Siyyam family from the premises on Wednesday after an Israeli court ruled in favor of Elad, an Israeli group working to strengthen Jewish presence in east Jerusalem. (AP)
Updated 10 July 2019

Israeli settlers take over east Jerusalem home after court battle

  • The apartment in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan was home to a 53-year-old woman and her four children

JERUSALEM: Palestinian family was evicted from a home in east Jerusalem near the Old City on Wednesday after Israeli settlers won a court battle that stretched more than two decades, activists said.
The apartment in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan was home to a 53-year-old woman and her four children, according to Israeli NGO Peace Now, which opposes Israeli settlement expansion.
Police arrived and evicted the residents from the apartment and they will at least temporarily stay with relatives.
An Israeli court found that the Elad foundation, which seeks to increase the Jewish presence in mainly Palestinian east Jerusalem, had legally purchased that portion of the property and ruled in its favor.
“To take us from the house is like taking my heart from my body,” one of the Palestinian residents, Ali Siyam, 20, told AFP.
Elad said in a statement “the property was purchased by Jewish people in accordance with the law, in good faith and in a fair and legal transaction.”
It added that “three separate courts verified that the property was lawfully purchased by Jews.”
The foundation, known in English as the City of David foundation, also oversees a nearby archaeological center in Silwan that seeks to demonstrate Jews’ historical connection to Jerusalem.
It was in the news recently when US officials attended an inauguration of an archaeological project it organized in Silwan, another break with traditional diplomatic practice by President Donald Trump’s White House that drew Palestinian outrage.
Their attendance was seen as further US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over east Jerusalem.
Palestinians say Israel and groups such as Elad are on a systematic campaign to force them out of Jerusalem.
Israel occupied east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.
It sees the entire city as its capital, while the Palestinians view the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.
East Jerusalem includes highly sensitive holy sites for Christians, Muslims and Jews that are located in the Old City near Silwan.
Some 600,000 Israeli settlers now live in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem among around 2.9 million Palestinians.
Peace Now said in a statement “the settlement in Silwan not only harms the prospects for a conflict-ending agreement and stability in Jerusalem, it is also cruel and evil.”
It accused the settlers of “using their power and money to exhaust and impoverish the Palestinian families in legal proceedings so that they will have to agree to sell them homes.”


Clashes, tear gas in Beirut as protests turn to riots

Updated 06 June 2020

Clashes, tear gas in Beirut as protests turn to riots

  • Divisions among protesters over the goals of the demonstration quickly became apparent as groups of protesters faced off
  • Hundreds of Lebanese soldiers and riot police were deployed on major roads in the capital and its suburbs ahead of the protest

BEIRUT: Lebanese riot police fired tear gas at protesters in central Beirut on Saturday, after a planned anti-government demonstration quickly degenerated into rioting and stone-throwing confrontations between opposing camps.
A few thousand demonstrators had gathered in Martyrs' Square hoping to reboot nationwide protests that began late last year amid an unprecedented economic and financial crisis. But tensions and divisions among protesters over the goals of the demonstration quickly became apparent as groups of protesters faced off, with the army standing between them.
Scattered groups of protesters arrived in the capital's downtown area, only some of them wearing masks and face shields to protect against the spread of the coronavirus, in response to calls for a centralized protest to press for demands.
Lebanese rose up against their political leaders in nationwide mass protests on Oct. 17 amid a spiraling economic crisis, blaming them for decades of corruption and mismanagement. The protests, which further deepened the slump, eventually lost some momentum and later were put on hold after the outbreak of the pandemic.
The government has gradually begun easing a lockdown aimed at curbing the virus, and protesters have returned to the streets in small numbers in recent days. Saturday's protest was called for by grassroots organizations and civil society groups as well as several political parties, including some groups who have introduced for the first time demands for the Shiite militant group Hezbollah to disarm.
The participation of political groups and anti-Hezbollah slogans have upset some activists and protesters who say the focus should remain on addressing the country's economic crisis and calling for early elections.
Hundreds of Lebanese soldiers and riot police were deployed on major roads in the capital and its suburbs ahead of the protest. They later stood between supporters of Hezbollah and its allied Shiite Amal movement on one side and protesters on the other, some of whom shouted insults aimed at the Hezbollah leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.
The pro-Hezbollah side, some carrying yellow Hezbollah flags, chanted “Shia, Shia, Shia!”
Near the parliament building, a group of young men hurled rocks over cement barriers erected to seal off the area. Young men vandalized several storefronts, including a luxury French designer furniture company and a nearby hotel. Police responded with heavy tear gas.
The unprecedented economic crisis, nationwide protests and pandemic pose the biggest threat to stability since the end of the country’s civil war in 1990, and there are fears of a new slide into violence.
In recent weeks, the Lebanese pound, pegged to the dollar for more than two decades, has lost 60% of its value against the dollar and prices of basic goods soared. Unemployment has risen to 35% and an estimated 45% of the country’s population is now below the poverty line.