Residents in Silwan told AFP that city officials had delivered a “demolition order” late on Thursday, ordering the removal of a tent set up to protest against municipal plans to level 22 homes to make way for a new tourism park.
“They told Naim al-Ruweidi, who owns the land, that he must take the tent down by 8:00 am on Sunday,” Fakhri Abu Diab, one of the protest leaders, told AFP.
“They said that if he didn’t do it, they would expel him and his family from Jerusalem and demolish his house.”
Attempts by AFP to reach Jerusalem municipality went unanswered.
Earlier, police fired tear gas into the crowd demonstrating outside the tent shortly after attending the weekly Friday prayers there, Abu Diab said.
Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said police and border police in the area had been “attacked by stone throwers and had dispersed the rioters.” Every week, hundreds of people attend Friday prayers at the Silwan protest tent which is situated in the heart of an area that has seen regular clashes between locals and hardline Jewish settlers.
The sprawling tent is also the focus point for local efforts to combat encroaching Jewish settlement activity in the crumbling neighbourhood, which lies just to the south of Jerusalem’s Old City walls.
Israeli plans to create a park called Gan HaMelech in Silwan’s Al-Bustan area have drawn widespread condemnation from Palestinians and the international community.
The Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their promised state and oppose any attempts to extend Israel’s control over the part of the city that was captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.
Israel considers all of Jerusalem to be its “eternal and indivisible” capital.
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