JERUSALEM, August 27, 2015 (WAFA) – Ateret Cohanim Jewish organization Thursday forcefully took over a Palestinian-owned building in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, according to Wadi Hilweh Information Center (WHIC).
WHIC said some 60 Israeli settlers broke into the area before dawn and broke into a Palestinian-owned building, claiming they had purchased it from a Jerusalemite Palestinian named Jamal Sarhan. The settlers declared the building a Jewish property.
According to WHIC, Sarhan earlier asked the tenants, all of whom are Palestinians, to leave their apartments by force in order to make way for the settlers. It said while most of the Palestinian tenants were forced to leave, one of them refused to leave his apartment and tried change the doors’ locks. The settlers, nevertheless, were able to open the locks and enter the premises.
According to local sources, Sarhan is a high-profile broker who in recent years attempted to pass the ownership of several Palestinian properties to Jewish organizations.
In November 2011, several members of the Sarhan family of Jerusalem declared in a signed statement that they are not responsible for any actions committed by Sarhan. The family secluded itself from Sarhan and his offspring.
The family said it was exempted from any legal, moral, tribal or any other obligation due to actions, mainly selling properties to Jews, by Jamal and his children at any time.
Maher Abdel-Wahed, Palestinian owner of an adjacent building, said the settlers’ takeover of the nearby building would likely endanger the remaining Palestinian-owned homes in the area, making a reference to the recent upscale in attacks by Jewish fanatics on Palestinians.
Abdel-Wahed urged the local Jerusalemite community in Silwan to act with no mercy against those who sell their property to Jewish settlers, since this could undermine the Arab and Palestinian presence in the city.
Recently, Jewish organizations, including Ateret Cohanim, forcefully took over multiple Arab-owned buildings in Silwan. This came amid reports of an increasing number of high profile sales of Palestinian homes to Jewish organizations in East Jerusalem.
Palestinian government and civil society organizations have at times considered all those who sell their property to Jewish settlers or settler organizations as “traitors”.
In October 2014, President Mahmoud Abbas toughened the penalty for citizens selling property to Israelis by imposing a sentence of hard labor for life on “anyone diverting, renting or selling land to an enemy state or one of its subjects.”
In the closing statement of a Ramallah conference on October 2014, Fatah’s Revolutionary Council accused Palestinians who sold their property of “high treason,” calling on the government and legal system to “take the necessary steps to deter them.”
The movement also called on the public to “boycott and humiliate them on all popular levels.”
“Those whose sick souls allowed them to sell their land or homes, or enable such sales to the enemies of the Palestinian people, are a gang of traitors to their nation and religion,” said Fatah spokesman Osama al-Qawasmi in a statement previously published by WAFA. “They have brought shame and scorn upon themselves in this world and in the afterlife.”