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Israel to seize more land in al-Quds’ Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood despite intl. outcry against evictions

Placards by Palestinians in protest against Israeli takeover of Palestinian property in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East al-Quds are seen in this file photo. (Photo by Wafa news agency)

Israeli authorities have given the green light to seizure of thousands square meters of Palestinian-owned land in the East al-Quds neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, as the Tel Aviv regime continues with its land grab policies in the occupied territories despite international outcry against its land eviction policies.

Saleh Diab, a Palestinian activist, told Palestine’s official Wafa news agency on Monday that Israel’s High Court of Justice issued an order on Sunday for the seizure of over 4,700 square meters of land belonging to four Palestinian families from the neighborhood with the aim of turning it into a public park.

He further noted that the Israeli municipality first presented the plan of establishing a park in the area in 2016, but failed to seize the land at the time.

Kamal Obeidat, one of the landowners, said in a phone interview with WAFA that the decision to seize the land located near a hotel aims at increasing its area for construction from 18,000 to 36,000 square meters in favor of the Israeli municipality.

He went on to say that the issue has been deliberated in the courts for more than 20 years, explaining that the land was used as a parking lot for buses and other vehicles and it was supposed to be turned it into a project for the benefit of Palestinians in East al-Quds.

However, he said, now the municipality will use it for the construction of illegal settlements.

The latest development came after Israel’s High Court of Justice rejected the appeal submitted by Palestinian residents against the appropriation of their land on Sunday.

The Palestinian Information Center, citing a local committee in Sheikh Jarrah, reported that the court also ordered the Palestinian families to pay a financial penalty of 18,000 shekels.

Sheikh Jarrah has been the scene of frequent crackdowns by Israeli police on Palestinians protesting against the threatened expulsion of dozens of Palestinian families from their homes in favor of hardline Israeli settler groups.

Since Israel seized East al-Quds in the 1967 war, Israeli settler organizations have claimed ownership of land in Sheikh Jarrah and have filed multiple lawsuits to evict Palestinians from the area.

The threatened Sheikh Jarrah expulsions have also drawn international attention and sparked global outrage.

The land grab and evictions carried out by the Israeli authorities are seen as part of efforts to forcibly displace the Palestinians and change the demographic character of the occupied territories.

Israel demolishes Palestinians' water reservoir in West Bank

Separately on Monday, Wafa reported that Israeli forces demolished a water reservoir in the town of Khader, located south of Bethlehem.

The news agency, citing local activist Ahmad Salah, said Israeli troops escorted a bulldozer into the Wadi al-Shami area of the town, where the heavy machinery tore down the water reservoir purportedly for being built without a permit.

The destruction of the water reservoir comes as Palestinians in the occupied territories suffer from a water shortage and Israeli authorities damage any projects that aim to solve the problem.

With the scarcity of water available for Palestinians since Israel controls all water resources in the occupied West Bank, residents build reservoirs to collect rainwater for various irrigation purposes.

More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds.

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law as they are built on occupied land. The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.

Emboldened by US' all-out support, Israel has stepped up its illegal settlement construction activities in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which pronounced settlements in the West Bank and East al-Quds “a flagrant violation under international law.”

Much of the international community regards the Israeli settler units in the occupied lands as illegal.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent state with East al-Quds as its capital.

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