#SaveSilwan goes viral as Palestinians face home demolitions

#SaveSilwan goes viral as Palestinians face home demolitions to make way for Israeli archaeological park
3 min read
27 June, 2021
Palestinians are urging social media users to pressure Israel into halting demolitions in Al-Bustan neighbourhood using the viral #SaveSilwan hashtag.
Some 1,500 Palestinians face expulsion from Silwan [Getty]

Social media users across the world have expressed solidarity with Palestinians in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan as more than 17 homes face demolition by Israel.

The Al-Bustan neighbourhood in Silwan, home to some 1,500 residents, is at risk of being ethnically cleansed, activists say.

Residents were given a deadline which passed on Sunday afternoon to demolish their own homes, or else occupying Israeli forces would carry out the demolition and charge them a $20,000 fine.

Residents are requesting international solidarity to pressure Israel to halt the demolitions.

Their homes in Al-Bustan are set to be replaced with an Israeli archaeological park.

The #SaveSilwan hashtag has been trending on a number of major social media platforms, including Twitter and Instagram.

Residents and activists have also urged Western countries to stop arming Israel as it continues to forcibly expel Palestinians from Jerusalem.

Israeli courts have dismissed documents dating to Ottoman times presented by Palestinian families showing ownership of homes in Batn Al-Hawa, which is also part of East Jerusalem’s Silwan district.

Amnesty International demanded the evictions in Silwan be stopped.

The human rights organisation's deputy MENA director, Saleh Higazi, said: "This is yet another illustration of Israel's criminal policy of forced displacement of Palestinians in motion."

The razing of Palestinian homes has continued throughout the coronavirus pandemic, with the UN saying last week that demolitions reached a four-year high between March and August 2020.

Four out of five of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem live under the poverty line, and applying for building permits comes with various taxes and fees amounting to tens of thousands of dollars.

As a result, only seven percent of Jerusalem building permits have been allocated to Palestinian neighbourhoods in the past few years.

Applications for building permits are also known to take years to be processed, giving Israeli courts a loophole to increase Palestinian home demolitions by branding structures as "illegal".

Israel's forced expulsions of Palestinians in East Jerusalem sparked international protests earlier as attention focused on the plight of residents of the city's Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.

Most of the Palestinian families who currently face expulsion from Sheikh Jarrah were settled there in the 1950s under a UNRWA programme after being forcibly displaced from their homes during Israel's founding in 1948.