The Struggle in Silwan

The East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan has been tense for months with clashes breaking out between protesting Palestinian youths and Israeli security forces on a regular basis.

Jerusalem municipality has demolished many Palestinian homes. The planned demolition of dozens more homes, the eviction of many Palestinian residents, and the pending eviction of hundreds more to make way for illegal Jewish settlements and a Jewish theme park has led to a time-bomb waiting to explode.

In an all too familiar scenario a growing number of unarmed Palestinians have been shot dead by armed Israelis in situations that critics and human rights organisations argue are questionable at best and deliberate executions at worst.

Some Palestinians are speculating that an increase in the provocative behaviour of Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem is a fifth-column strategy by the Israeli government to derail peace talks and ease international pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cease settlement building and expansion.

“These provocations are calculated and violent acts with a political goal,” according to Dimitri Diliani, a Fatah Revolutionary Council member.

“The sequence of settler attacks against the Palestinian civilian population increased in severity and frequency as the settlement moratorium approached with the accompanying international pressure on Israel.

“Israel will use the clashes as an excuse to portray itself once again as the victim, and to argue that its security is in jeopardy. A senior Israel Defence Forces (IDF) member actually claimed that the growing grassroots civil movement and the strategy of non-violence as espoused by the Palestinian leadership posed a public relations problem for Israel. He further argued that it was easier for Israel to argue its case to the world when Israeli civilians were the victims of Palestinian attacks,” says Diliani.

Abed Shaludi, a member of the Bustan Committee Against Home Demolitions agrees with Diliani’s assessment, saying that the settlers are trying to provoke an uprising.

“We are sick of the settlers and the situation. Our economical situation is weak, there are insufficient schools for our children, and the settler guards walk in groups and intimidate the citizens by cursing at them and threatening them with guns. I knew it was just a matter of time before one of them eventually killed a Palestinian…”

It appears the Israeli policy to Judaise East Jerusalem and drive the Palestinians from their homes will backfire.

“We will not leave our homes under any circumstances,” says Fakri Abu Diab, a spokesman from the Bustan committee. “My home is also slated for demolition. But they will have to kill me first. I would rather be dead than see my children forced to live on the streets…”

IPS

September 27, 2010

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