A Palestinian family was evicted from a home in east Jerusalem near the Old City on Wednesday after Israeli settlers won a court battle that stretched more than two decades, activists said.
The apartment in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan was home to a 53-year-old woman and her four children, according to Israeli NGO Peace Now, which opposes Israeli settlement expansion.
Police arrived and evicted the residents from the apartment and they will at least temporarily stay with relatives.
An Israeli court found that the Elad foundation, which seeks to increase the Jewish presence in mainly Palestinian east Jerusalem, had legally purchased that portion of the property and ruled in its favor.
“To take us from the house is like taking my heart from my body,” one of the Palestinian residents, Ali Siyam, 20, told AFP.
Elad said in a statement “the property was purchased by Jewish people in accordance with the law, in good faith and in a fair and legal transaction.”
It added that “three separate courts verified that the property was lawfully purchased by Jews.”
The foundation, known in English as the City of David Foundation, also oversees a nearby archaeological center in Silwan that seeks to demonstrate Jews’ historical connection to Jerusalem.
It was in the news recently when U.S. officials attended an inauguration of an archaeological project it organized in Silwan, another break with traditional diplomatic practice by President Donald Trump‘s White House that drew Palestinian outrage.
Their attendance was seen as further U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over east Jerusalem.
Palestinians say Israel and groups such as Elad are on a systematic campaign to force them out of Jerusalem.
Israel occupied east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.
It sees the entire city as its capital, while the Palestinians view the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.
East Jerusalem includes highly sensitive holy sites for Christians, Muslims and Jews that are located in the Old City near Silwan.
Some 600,000 Israeli settlers now live in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem among around 2.9 million Palestinians.
Peace Now said in a statement “the settlement in Silwan not only harms the prospects for a conflict-ending agreement and stability in Jerusalem, it is also cruel and evil.”
It accused the settlers of “using their power and money to exhaust and impoverish the Palestinian families in legal proceedings so that they will have to agree to sell them homes.”