(JTA) – Approximately 50 Israeli Jews, accompanied by police, moved into a five-story building in an Arab neighbourhood of east Jerusalem.
Activists from Ateret Cohanim, a right wing group, moved into the building in the Silwan section of Jerusalem on Thursday morning, claiming the property had belonged to Jews before Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, when east Jerusalem came under Jordanian control, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
Roughly 50,000 Palestinians and several hundred Jews currently live in Silwan, according to the AP.
Palestinian residents of the building, which Ateret Cohanim members purchased, claim they were unfairly evicted or illegally bullied into leaving.
Peace Now, an Israeli organization that monitors settlement growth, accused the Israeli government of easing the settlers’ activity by not stopping the move and by providing security to the new residents, the Times of Israel reported.
“Last night’s entry is not merely a private act, as it was aided by law enforcement authorities,” Peace Now said in a statement. “The government decided in the past not to allow settlement inside Palestinian neighbourhoods, and it can do so again. In the meantime, its actions are supporting the dangerous expansion of the settlement in Silwan.”