Middle East Monitor / July 26, 2022
Jerusalem affairs experts have warned of an Israeli plan to build a Yemenite visitor centre in Silwan district in occupied Jerusalem as part of ongoing efforts to take over the neighbourhood that they claim belonged to Yemenite Jewry, The Palestinian Information Centre has reported.
The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) and the Ateret Cohanim [Crown of the Priests] Jewish settler group claim that the Yemenite neighbourhood (Batn al-Hawa) in Silwan was founded in the late 19th century, but it was evacuated by Britain in 1938 before dozens of Palestinian families moved in.
They also claim that an old Yemenite synagogue used to exist in Silwan as part of their relentless efforts to seize as many Palestinian homes and buildings as possible in the district, which is located near the Old City of Jerusalem.
In 2015, Ateret Cohanim managed to evict the Jerusalemite Abu Nab family, who had been living in what this group claims to be an old Yemenite synagogue in Batn al-Hawa, and gave their house to illegal Jewish settlers.
Recently, Ateret Cohanim reached an agreement with Israeli Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin and Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar to allocate 4.5 million shekels ($1.3 million) to build this Yemenite visitor centre, which will include a synagogue and a police monitoring station, in Batn al-Hawa neighbourhood, according to experts.
Ateret Cohanim is a government-backed Jewish group and educational institute located in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. It actively works on Judaizing the holy city and expelling its indigenous people, the Jerusalemites, from their homes.
Israel’s Judaization activities started in Silwan district and its nearby areas in 1996 when the Jewish neighbourhood of Ma’ale Hazeitim emerged as a small illegal settlement on the Mount of Olives in occupied East Jerusalem, inside the Arab neighbourhood of Ras al-Amud.
In 2004, Ateret Cohanim embarked on efforts to have Israeli courts rule in their favour and forcibly remove Palestinian families from their homes in the neighbourhood and across occupied East Jerusalem.