Dozens of Jewish families moved into their new homes in the Shiloach neighborhood in eastern Yerushalayim late Monday night, under heavy police escort due to local Arab anger.
During the overnight move, Arab rioters attempted to enter one of the Jewish homes by force, and began attacking police. Rioters threw rocks and fireworks at security forces, which dispersed them. One policeman suffered light injuries to the head and was treated on-site, Arutz Shevareported.
The buildings were purchased by an American company, Kandel Finance, and are owned by Jews, but in a familiar refrain, Arab residents claim that the houses belonged to three Arab families. Eleven apartments are reportedly at the center of the dispute.
Shiloach (known as Silwan by local Arabs) has been a flashpoint for Arab violence in recent months, and the increased Jewish presence there could ignite more of it.
An estimated 500 Jews live in Shiloach, surrounded by some 50,000 Palestinians, and a contingent of Israeli police to keep order. This was the largest purchase of homes in the area since the process began in 1986, taking to 26 the number of Jewish-owned properties, local officials told Reuters.
Saeb Erekat, the Palestinians’ chief negotiator, denounced the move as an attempt to erase Palestinian identity.
“They think they can drive us out. But we are the landowners. We were here and we will be here until we have all of Palestine without any Jewish people in it,” said Fadi Maragha, a local representative of Fatah.
Asked what would happen to the son and the broker to whom he had sold the property, Maragha said he felt they should die, but he did not expect that to happen.
“We know who the broker is. He’s living in a town south of Yerushalayim,” he said. “But he’s rich and he’s protected, including by the Israelis.”