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 Use of Force on Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif/ Building Permit for 4-story Building in Batan al-Hawa

This morning, the Israel Police forcefully entered the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, setting off a quick escalation of events leading to Palestinians barricading themselves in Al Aqsa and attempts by the Border Police to breach the premises.  At least two Palestinians were arrested. There are additional reports of Border Police using pepper spray in the Compound.

According to a Police spokesperson, today’s actions were not based on any evidence of Palestinian incitement or intentions to disrupt the peace. Since October 2015, when the Israel Police ceased the application of collective age or gender based restrictions on Muslim worshippers’ access to the Haram al-Sharif, police have also refrained from use of force as a deterrent, employing force only in those situations involving an immediate security threat.  On several occasions over the last two years, in instances that would have previously precipitated a deterrent strategy, Police held back. In light of the spokesperson’s comments, today’s actions appear to represent a worrying regression if not policy reversal.

Today’s events also follow on the heels of a one hour closure of Al Aqsa last week while the Police sought out suspects in a stone throwing incident, the revocation of 250,000 special Ramadan permits for West Bank Palestinians after a terrorist attack this weekend, and the approach of the end of Ramadan, when many of those denied permits would be travelling to Jerusalem for Eid al Fitr.

Batan al-Hawa Building Permit

On Wednesday, the appeals committee of the District Planning and Building Committee will hear Palestinian residents’ appeal against a building permit for a 4-story building in Batan al-Hawa for the Ateret Cohanim settler organization.  The residents claim that the building is sited on two plots, one not owned by the settler group.  


On December 28, 2016, the Local Planning and Building Committee approved the controversial project for a new four story settler building in one of the most flammable neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.

Under the radar, the committee greenlighted a four-story building located on a vacant plot in Batan Al-Hawa, Silwan, the site of a massive takeover campaign by the Ateret Cohanim settler organization which has put 100 Palestinian families – roughly 600 residents – at risk of eviction.  The request was issued by MALIH 73, a company managed by members of Ateret Cohanim.  The building is to be erected on a plot sold to the settlers by the Israeli General Custodian – which failed to promote the sale through a public tender process – on a plot located across the street from Beit Yonatan, the original settler stronghold around which Ateret Cohanim is steadily expanding its settlement.  Some seventeen Palestinian families in Batan al-Hawa have been evicted by Ateret Cohanim and dozens of other Palestinian families are threatened with eviction.

According to an earlier assessment by Ir Amim, the permit request was made despite its evident failure to meet building regulations.  One part of the building under consideration appears to be located on a plot not owned by Ateret Cohanim and a story of the building, designated for storage, is actually intended for residential use.  Despite these problems, the Local Planning and Building Committee approved the permit in June 2016, after which residents of Batan Al-Hawa turned to the Appeals Committee of the District Committee.  The Appeals Committee referred the decision back to the local level for further discussion. Amid mounting international pressure against continued Israeli settlement and just hours before former US Secretary of State John Kerry was scheduled to deliver his remarks on the Middle East peace process at the State Department, the Committee issued its approval.

For an extensive description of the Israeli authorities’ role in advancing the largest settlement project in a Palestinian neighborhood since the annexation of East Jerusalem, see Ir Amim’s and Peace Now’s joint report, Broken Trust: State Involvement in Private Settlement in Batan al-Hawa.

Please direct all inquiries to:

Betty Herschman

Director of International Relations & Advocacy

Ir Amim (City of Nations/City of Peoples)





Twitter: @IrAmimAlerts


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